Friday, August 27, 2010

Honorable Intentions

What does the word "honor" mean to you? How do you define that which is honorable? Is it merely a combination of lofty principles, such as honesty, fairness and integrity? And/or is it the action of integrating these principles into one's life in the service of others?

I ask this question, of course, because Mr. Glenn Beck has planned a rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, 47 years to the day after Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I Have A Dream Speech". He has explained that this rally is not political. He intends to only honor military families, past and present, for their steadfast sacrifices in the line of duty for the citizens of the United States. For a more noble cause, one would indubitably have to search far and wide.

I wonder, though, why now and why there? If this rally is to honor service people, why not on the anniversary of VJ Day that just passed? Why not on Veterans' Day in November or Memorial Day in May? These are all fitting occasions for launching a fund raising event for military families. A few steps away from the the Lincoln Memorial, lie the memorials erected for those who served and lost their lives in the Vietnam and Korean wars. They are stark, beautiful and haunting--perfect backdrops to showcase honor in action.

You just can't beat the significance of honoring military personnel and their families' sacrifices in front of that endless, shiny wall of names. I get goosebumps thinking of what it would mean to those who have served to be recognized in front of those statues of American soldiers in the Korean War. Fanning out in formation, with worried concentration permanently etched on their faces, knowing that their time is coming very soon but still having to move inexorably forward...these men are a powerful symbol of honor, indeed.

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Lincoln offered up their lives, too, after decades of living their principles. They did not stoop to slandering their political opponents. They did not paint their political and ideological enemies as miscreants and idiots. Their Truths were self-evident and lived every day, publicly and peacefully, for all to see.

I am also confused why the rally would be named, "Restoring Honor", when honor has not been stripped but rather heaped on the military by both political parties. The United States government and citizens have made every effort to praise military sacrifices. However, if the rally's organizers are intending to give honor where honor is due to the Vietnam vets, I would enthusiastically applaud this gesture. These men and women, who gave everything in an unpopular war and then were summarily ignored, deserve some public applause. Their standing up to demand recognition for their sacrifices led to our citizens being more aware of supporting our military personnel in wars they cannot win. Now, that's honorable.

I have a sneaking suspicion, though, that what Mr. Glenn Beck wants to really restore is his own ideological beliefs. If this is true, more power to him, that's politics. But if he wants to talk about honor, he has to act honorably and with integrity, himself. He has rarely judged his political opponents fairly. He is being untruthful about his political agenda at this rally, or he would have named it something like "Revealing Honor" instead of "Restoring Honor". The choice of the word "restoring" is intentionally leads his followers to believe that honor only rests in their convictions, under their watch.

Mr. Glenn Beck and all the other political pundits, conservative and liberal, may understand how to manipulate the principles of honesty, fairness and integrity for their own gain but they haven't the first clue about how to live them. Those who are honorable are willing to sacrifice their very lives in order to serve greater principles that benefit all humankind. Political pundits only serve their own self interests under the guise of serving others...and you can't get any more hypocritical, any more dishonorable than that.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The steps of the Lincoln Memorial are not exclusive of MLK's infamous speech. Many other rallies and speeches have occurred there. However,that event is etched in the American psyche and the two are forever linked, both symbolizing equality.
While we may not like that Mr.Glenn is holding a politically motivated rally there, he has the same freedom to do so. Looking back, MLK's same freedom of choice had outraged many in our nation.

It's very true that the Korean and Vietnam War memorials are a more appropriate setting for this speech. But, sadly, that won't bring the TV cameras, will it? The bending of principle to meet his media needs underscores his lack of honor.
I agree, that Americans have shifted their attitude toward servicemembers who fight in a war that wasn't or can't be won. As regretful as Vietnam was,Americans learned a very powerful lesson. But, I think many Americans are far removed from the military and they just do not understand the scope of sacrifice. When I tell city-shackled friends that my nephew is in Afghanistan, the typical deer in headlights response is 'Wow'. In American parlance, "They just don't get it".

Could this have spurred Mr.Glenn's frustration and be the motivation for his 'Restoration' speech. I guess we'll have to listen.