The New Year is fast upon us.
The Old Year wheezing along... the death rattle ringing in our ears...
We choose to ignore it, our eyes locked on the celebratory promise of what the New Year holds instead.
As 2006 ends, two deaths stand out; their lives in absolute contradiction to me.
Former President Gerald Ford, a beloved icon of our country and Saddam Hussein, former tryrannical, murderous dictator of Iraq.
As Ford took the oath of office he represented a new hope, and set about the task of healing the broken image of the Presidential office itself, and that of our whole political machine.
Ford knew, before we as Americans knew, that what we needed most in the wake of Watergate and Vietnam was forgiveness. He pardoned the draft dodgers, and more importantly he pardoned former President Nixon. He shouldered the controversy of those actions alone for many years, until as he knew it would, public opinion changed and realized how courageous he was on our behalf. As the sands of time have flowed, the respect and honor given to Ford has increased exponentially.
On a personal note, I remember Ford as the smiling, kind President. Nixon always seemed so serious and intimidating, and Ford was so much more open and accessible in appearance and demeanor to me as a nine year old in 1974. In 1975 and 1976 as the Bicentennial approached, I could not have imagined a better man leading those many celebrations than President Gerald Ford.
Rest in Peace, you will be missed and remembered fondly and well, dear Sir.
Now, onto the death of a vile man, who put a face to evil in the arab world for three decades, Saddam Hussein. Yes, Osama bin Laden joined him as an evil twin in 2001, but prior to that, and up until being deposed in 2003, Hussein certainly wore that mantle as well.
In 1987-1988 the man killed approximately 160,000 Kurds under his rule, just because he could. Although his trial was for the specific crime of killing 148 Shiite Muslims from Dujail, all of his victims and victims families, varied and many as they are since his reign of terror began in 1979, should derive satisfaction from the justice of Hussein's execution.
Prior to the Baath Regime, Sunni's, Shiites and Kurds were all able to live together in relative peace. It is my ferverent hope that their new coalition government will be able to find a way for all to live in democratic peace.
Prime Minister al-Jaafari would do well to take a page from President Ford's book. Maybe he will find some inspiration there to help his people to heal, to turn their backs on violence, and turn toward peace and prosperity in our ever shrinking world.
I don't often expound on political topics; I hope I haven't offended anyone.