Saturday, June 16, 2012

Mr. Churchill's decision--and ours

I"m reading a book that fascinates me--Mr. Churchill's Secretary, by Susan Elia MacNeal. I'm fascinated not only because it has good mystery elements but mostly because of the history I'm learning. The setting is London in 1939, with war anticipation running high as Hitler marched across Europe. I was one year old, so I obviously didn't know, but in school I learned basically that WWII started with Pearl Harbor. Now I know there was so much more going on. Hitler devastated Europe, ending with France. Britain knew he would turn his attention there and lived in dreadful anticipation of the Luftwaffe attacks. London was rife with resentment that the United States had not joined in, and the IRA was doing its best to bring down England at this most vulnerable time--bombings, collusion with the Nazis, all kinds of plots. Britain faced treason from within and military force from without. Winston Churchill, who called for resisting the enemy at all costs, was not particularly a popular figure. Many favored appeasement, but Churchill held fast to his conviction that Britain must not succumb.
The central figure, as the title implies, is Mr. Churchill's secretary--actually she's a mathematician, trained at Wellesley, but women were not allowed such jobs, so she takes dictation. And at one point, Church says to her, "Either we move forward into a world of sunlight or sink into the abyss of a new dark age."
To me, that's where America stands right now. It's not overtly a political choice, it's a moral one--though ultimately of course it comes down to politics. But are we going to become a nation divided by class, with little or no opportunity for few but the rich? A nation divided by gender, race, sexual preference? A nation whose judgment and laws are heavily influenced by one set of religious principles that, among other things, deny women a seat at the table?
Or are we going to conitnue to move forward to be a nation where every person,regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual preference, has an equal chance? A nation where all faiths and all races are respected? A nation that recognizes the worth of the individual, be he or she factory worker or millionaire?
Granted our forefathers didn't foresee racial equality, gender equality--we have, to our credit, "come a long way, baby!" But those founding fathers were quite clear about separation of church and state, having come from the oppression of many religions in Europe. And Thomas Jefferson, among others, warned of the dangers when government falls into the hands of the privileged and elite.
This November we have that clear choice. It's not a choice of Republican or Democrat--it's a choice of moral principles. I know where I stand. How about you?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I do know where I stand; whatever ambivalency I had was removed the day the backdoor amnesty was granted for those who have broken the law.