I’m reading A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving and, as with all other Irving books I’ve read, I love it. Irving deals with humanity, loss, love, relationships and the like, and occasionally has prophetic moments like this:
“What do Americans know about morality? They don’t want their presidents to have penises but they don’t mind if their presidents covertly arrange to support the Nicaraguan rebel forces after Congress has restricted such aid; they don’t want their presidents to deceive their wives but they don’t mind if their presidents deceive Congress–lie to the people and violate the people’s constitution!”
Note: this book was published nearly 20 years ago. History repeating itself? He has something to say about that as well…
“I believe that President Reagan can say these things only because he knows that the American people will never hold him accountable for what he says; it is history that holds you accountable, and I’ve already expressed my opinion that Americans are not big on history. How many of them remember their own, recent history? Was twenty years ago so long ago for Americans? Do they remember October 21, 1967? Fifty thousand antiwar demonstrators were in Washington; I was there; that was the ‘March on the Pentagon’–remember? And two years later–in October of ’69–there were fifty thousand people in Washington again; they were carrying flashlights, they were asking for peace. There were a hundred thousand asking for peace in Boston Common; there were two hundred fifty thousand in New York. Ronald Reagan had not yet numbed the United States, but he had succeeded in putting California to sleep; he described the Vietnam protests as ‘giving aid and comfort to the enemy.’ As president, he still didn’t know who the enemy was.”
I know many people hate history. I get that. I wish it weren’t so, but I get it. But Irving makes a good point. He’s not talking about 200 years worth of history; he’s talking about 20 years worth of history. Maybe even 30, but that seems to much to ask of people. Seriously folks. We can’t wait around for history to hold accountable our leaders and their flagrant, nefarious, egregious decisions and actions. But the bottom line is that we really are concerned more with morality and our president’s penis than we are about the decisions he (one day she) makes that impacts the entire world and everyone in it. And that’s just the last 10 years of history.