Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Confronting evil

I'm not a big fan of David Brooks and I admit I don't often read his column in The New York Times, but a couple of days ago, he wrote one which had a title that intrigued me. It was "Obama's Christian Realism."The gist of the column was that President Obama's thought processes are revealed by his speeches and that his public speeches, taken as a whole, have reflected a remarkably consistent philosophy throughout. It is essentially that there is evil in the world which must be confronted, and, as Brooks states it, that "life is a struggle to push back against the evils of the world without succumbing to the passions of the beast lurking inside."

This is what Brooks calls the liberal internationalist approach. It is an approach that demands that we, as a nation, act in concert with others to achieve our aims. From this philosophy grew our backing of NATO and of the United Nations and of many regional alliances around the world. It is an approach to international relations that served this country very well for more than fifty years and was really only abandoned in this century by the Bushies. President Obama now seeks to return us to that more solid ground.

Brooks reminds us that Barack Obama spoke out against the Iraq war in 2002 and he was booed for his efforts. Throughout his political career, regardless of the opposition he has faced, he has steered by the stars of his understanding of what is right and of human nature's core struggle between love and evil. He is a serious and complicated man, a man who is able to hold two opposing ideas in his mind without succumbing to frustration or self-destructiveness.

I don't always agree with this president. I often wish that he would be more forceful in dealing with some of the more infuriatingly self-centered and self-serving politicians who pontificate in the Senate. I wish that he would act more swiftly to right some of the wrongs that have become ingrained in our system of government over the past eight years. But I am resigned to the fact that he will act with all deliberate speed on his own schedule and that he will not engage in the kind of partisan retribution that has marked the worst of our politics in recent years, even if I might want him to, because it is against his nature and he believes it is wrong.

No matter what the outcome may be, it is comforting to have the country in the hands of a "Christian realist" who is able to see not only good and evil in black and white, but all those confusing shades of gray in between.

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