Sunday, November 3, 2013

America, the High and the Mighty

In the wake of the LAX shooting and other examples of our declining civilization, I watched one of my favorite movies again---“The High and the Mighty”, starring the incomparable John Wayne.  It has never moved me more.

Perhaps it now falls into the realm of ancient myth, but, for me, it is a world I remember.  I was a babe in arms when the film was released, and yes, people really did behave that way, and in my lifetime, and I am 60, not 600, years old.  America didn't change suddenly from civilized and civil place where people put their best foot forward and expected as much of others.   It happened over time and whether the dividing line was World War II and the ensuing decadence, or Kennedy-Johnson and the ensuing madness of apologizing for being successful doesn't really matter.

The High and the Mighty, and perhaps the title is almost too appropriate, was the America of my childhood.  We hear a lot about “Self-esteem” today, but back then we had “Self Respect”.   As someone said, self-esteem is what you think; self-respect is what you do.  There are plenty of people today, pumped full of self-esteem and thinking themselves very good indeed who haven’t the self-respect to work for a living or cover their shame, or wash their car, or wipe their child’s nose.   People spoke to each other civilly.  I say this with the most profound shame, for I am one of the worst offenders:  We did not pour forth rivers of sewage from the same lips that kissed our parents, children and sweethearts.  I can think of all kinds of excuses—I've used them.  But they are foolish and ridiculous.  The fact is that we no longer have any self-respect.   We strove for cordiality in our encounters with others, not because we cared what they thought of us, but because of who we were.  We strove to control ourselves, emotionally and physically, in public, not only because of who we were but because we felt an obligation to others.  We were kind even to, probably especially to, those beneath us.  Yes, regardless of what strata of society we occupied, we were aware that some people were “beneath” us, and we felt an obligation toward them.  We tended to associate most strongly with people who were most like us in their upbringing, their principles and their Faith.  We were not interested in “expanding our minds”.   In those days hard work, a basic dedication to sobriety , honoring our elders, and fearing God, worked.   We didn't go around shooting random strangers, and everybody had firearms.

Men used to respect women.  Not all men, certainly, and a woman could certainly opt out of the arrangement, but overall, chivalry was still in force.  Women, as a whole, still respected themselves and their special place in creation.  Men responded favorably.  Feminism is a lie from hell.

This was the America that produced my husband of blessed memory, and it is the America which he never stopped believing in, despite all evidence to the contrary.  In spite of working in an atmosphere alive with tension over not “offending” his female coworkers, he continued to honor and respect women.  He was honest, humble, masculine and noble.  He cherished his appearance---not because he wanted to impress people but because he respected himself.  After his death, one of his little dialysis nurses told me “Your husband always smelled so good!”
He died February 7, 2013, when most of us had long since given up on America.  Most of us knew by then that the America he loved was gone forever, long since given over to the ignorant and the idle, those with no respect for themselves or others, who elected a president who knows nothing and takes no responsibility and thinks the job of president means living in the big house and spending other people’s money—getting while the getting is good.   But it was becoming too clear even for a starry eyed patriot like my husband—did I say he built things that saved thousands of American soldiers’ lives?  Well, he did.   He had suffered so much physically from his failed kidneys, and he never gave up.  He died 20 minutes after he got off the phone with his last conference call…I think Our Lord decided he had suffered enough and removed him from the heartache of seeing his country lost. 

I hope you’ll watch The High and the Mighty.  If you've seen it, I hope you’ll see it again.  I hope you will mourn for America, when it was a Christian civilization, before we gave it over to heathens and freeloaders and self appointed victims and to the illegals flooding across our borders.  I hope you’ll grieve for a time when a nanny state was not to be tolerated, and we cared more about our duty to ourselves than our entitlements from others, and we didn't have TSO’s getting murdered because we knew how to behave at the airport and in other public venues and we didn't NEED the TSA.    I hope you will weep for a time when we were the most decent of people and not human garbage, a time when being “tolerant” was not all that was required of life, a time when being an American made one proud and grateful and gracious and full of hope.

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