Which is the worst death?

Harry Welty

Visit to the Attic, 1992. Harry Welty’s first and only published book where he predicted that Donald Trump would be the future of the Republican Party

One. You are a woman and after an unexpected hail of bullets at the music festival where you have been dancing, 10 sweaty men with NRA-approved rifles grab you, strip off your dress and take turns forcing their manhood into you for what seems an eternity as panic, excruciating pain and humiliation dull your mind followed by a bullet to your head at which point the burning of your body is no longer your concern.  

Or   Two: You are a mother holding an infant knowing retribution is coming from your heavily armed neighbors because a thousand “warriors” raped and murdered the neighbors in your name without your permission. When your apartment building is bombed you and your child plummet amid bricks, dust and shards of death and land in choking darkness under 20 feet of debris muffling your screams as you and the child at your breast succumb over days leaving you to pray that you and your child will meet again in heaven.  

If you think a Democrat or a Republican has the right answer to this question shame on you. You are part of the tragedy of today’s America.

So, what is the future of such an America?  

Will our future be endless debates prompted by men such as the Lt. Governor of Texas trying to jail the doctors who may abort a child dying in its mother’s womb? Or debates about a prison system in which a white cop who kneed a black man to death is stabbed repeatedly in a law library as police abandon their jobs because their work is too stressful? Or a world where our once first-class postal system is propped up by my herniated mail carrier whose lucky disability limits him to a 10-hour delivery day (or did he tell me 12 hours?) while his more fit colleagues are expected to clock in at 7 am and deliver Christmas packages until 10 pm?  

I yearn for the “grace under pressure” that Hemingway defines as courage but remember that he is thought to have committed suicide. There is another famous saying about courage by Rudyard Kipling to wit: “If you can keep your wits about you while all others are losing theirs…(blah, blah, blah)”…to which another wit offered this amendment to the blahs…” “…its just possible you haven't grasped the situation.”  

Losing focus as a nation is nothing new. There was the burning of the White House, the bombardment of Fort Sumter, Black Tuesday, The day of Infamy and 9-11.  

I’ve been desperate to save my wits for a long time. In 1992 I predicted that Donald Trump would be the future of the Republican Party in a speech that was roundly booed by a couple hundred Republicans at Duluth’s Radisson Hotel. I published my convention speech in a book that year in a hapless if not hopeless campaign for Congress.

Thirty short years ago I had no idea that my three yet-to-be-born grandchildren would be facing an irreversible climate change from the unleashing of a billion years of stored sunshine over a few short decades.  

The two women I described at the beginning are fictitious representatives of 1,000 real Israelis and 16,000 real Palestinians who have already died as Christmas approaches. What about them?  

I keep running for Congress. That means nothing to them. I keep reading about Abe Lincoln. That means nothing them. I have spent two hours a day for six years trying to learn French. That means nothing to them. Neither does America’s faltering Democracy. But it does matter to me as it mattered to my grandfather a century ago when he fought in France to make the world “safe for Democracy.”  

Abraham Lincoln was elected to a single term of Congress in 1847. It was the peak of his then modest political experience. He needled President Polk for provoking a war that Lincoln disapproved of because some politicians wanted more slave states added to the United States. Lincoln was woefully out of step with his USA! USA! “Manifest destiny” constituents. But having to go back to Illinois after a single two-year term didn’t stop Lincoln.

And I didn’t stop in 1992 or a decade later when I land-filled 5,000 unsold books that I’d paid for with retirement money. I remembered what Lincoln’s law partner, James Herndon said of Lincoln. His ambition “was a little engine that knows no rest.” Thank God it was.  

Lincoln witnessed death on a scale beyond that of any other President before or since. He knew the King James Bible backward and forward but he was not a Christian despite claims to the contrary. As Civil War deaths mounted he spoke of a God who was watching events with great interest although Lincoln insisted that the combatants could never know which if any side God supported. I can’t speak for God either.

If there is a God I know I’m being sized up. If there is a God America is being sized up. How will our democracy measure up?  

Harry Welty, Harry Welty, Harry Welty…..for crying out loud! lincolndemocrat.com