OK, call me a sucker, but with sweet talk like this tweet below, I’ve decided to reconcile with Tulsi Gabbard after a mere three weeks’ estrangement from her. I haven’t changed my mind on her impeachment vote, but I’ve recently discovered the wonders of that strange and paradoxical virtue, “forgiveness.” As I’ve learned from a pioneering work of Biblical exegesis in a recent issue of Women’s Day,* forgiveness isn’t just kindness to others, but kindness to ourselves. And if kindness to oneself isn’t the essence of virtue, I don’t know (and don’t want to know) what is.
I’m not as enthusiastic as Tulsi about the supposedly grand and reasonable mission of keeping troops in place to fight ISIS and Al Qaeda (or whatever it is she’s trying to say about that), but I have a soft spot (I admit) for someone who has this to say about our current predicament:
…if we do not get our troops out of Iraq and Syria now, we will be dragged deeper and deeper into a quagmire and war that’ll make the previous war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan look like a picnic….[W]e must stand side by side and demand with one voice, stop this war with Iran before it goes any further.
Call it over-wrought or histrionic or melodramatic or whatever you want, but it still beats most of this, definitely beats this and this, and beats the hell out of dead silence (as per my own Congressman, as of this writing).** Both rhetorically and substantively, Tulsi’s way of putting things is the only adequate way to respond to people who speak like this, this, or this.
Like it or not, you can’t temporize your way out of a rush to war. Sanders, Warren, Williamson and others have had some notable and valuable things to say in criticism of the impending war with Iran, but Tulsi Gabbard is one of the few public figures, and one of the very few major politicians, who speaks in the authentic, wholehearted way that the situation demands. The crux of what she says here is irrefutable: Either we demand a stop to war, or we surrender to the forces of war. There is no safe, comfortable mean between those extremes that will somehow magically resolve the problem we face, and no way to achieve our aim without finding common ground and coming together as a single polity. At times like these, people whose disdain for one another exceeds their love of the common good discover the hard way that they’d gotten their priorities tragically wrong.
It’s hard to exaggerate the gravity of the situation we face. In that light, it’s demoralizing and sad to live in a country that blathers incessantly about the frivolous and trivial, but falls silent before the urgent and momentous. But if that’s what we’ve become, it’s good to know that, faults and all, at least one clear voice cuts through the noise.
*Unsurprisingly, the only comparable work on forgiveness to be published in a men’s magazine dates to the nineteenth century. I looked.
**See comments below for a postscript.