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Letters Sent to Us from the Public

Articles by Joel Martin

Articles by Margaret Wendt

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11/24/08 Getting Hit By a Bus

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The Internet news sites have headlines about President Bush’s welcoming remarks to Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the Oval Office. The quotation makes us want to cringe.

“And I reminded the President that I am reminded of the great talent of the -- of our Philippine-Americans when I eat dinner at the White House”. (Laughter.)

First, let’s set the record straight. The Executive Chef at the White House is a woman named Cristeta Comerford. She was selected after a 10 month search and has no doubt earned her title and her longevity in the job. She is both the first woman and the first Filipino to hold the position. It is not a question of whether or not she deserves recognition.

The problem with the comment is that it displays the tin ear that our President has about what, when and how to say something that is appropriate. We expect the word salad at the beginning of the sentence; that’s old hat. What makes us cringe or, in this case, nervously laugh, is how little attention this man pays to anything that is not directly in front of his face. Filipino-Americans have been artists, authors, poets, politicians, athletes and Medal of Honor recipients. They have lived in this country since the middle of the 18th century. One would think that someone at the White House would slip Mr. Bush a list of 3 -5 prominent people that he might reference along with his chef. It would have been a small act, a gracious act, but one that would have communicated respect.

But our President has turned into an easy target, a piñata for us all to take a whack at for anything from the war to the economy to health care and on and on. It’s almost too easy to cringe at what he says because most of us have come to the conclusion that much of what he says is at best ill informed or at worst a total misrepresentation of the facts. The real question for us all is how he came to be in the White House for eight years.

The easy answer is that we put him there. Not having voted for him doesn’t get any of us off the hook. He’s there because the majority of us voted for him the second time and the rest of us weren’t energized enough to oppose him. He is what we wanted and perhaps he is what we needed.

Consider this:
A very successful man has a large apartment in the city and several houses in the country in several different countries. He wants for nothing and devotes little thought to how he is blessed and how he accumulates his wealth. One day he walks out the front door of his building, begins to cross the street and is hit by a bus. Severely injured, he is taken to a hospital where he lies in traction for the better part of the year. As he lays there, in pain a good deal of the time, he evaluates his life. At the end of the year he leaves the hospital with a new awareness, a new set of values and a determination to define himself by something other than how much he has accumulated.

Was getting hit by the bus a good thing?

There are precious few of us who welcome misery and shame into our lives. The scriptures and the metaphysics may tell us that embracing pain it is the path to salvation and enlightenment, but not a lot of us are signing up for that – or so we think.

The fact is that we did sign up for it and we are in the latter stages of understanding what we chose. We can howl at the moon and beat our breasts and rend our clothing; it may be cathartic but it won’t accomplish much. Identifying what we don’t want may be useful, but nothing really changes until we do the work of being clear on what we do want.

From that perspective, Bush has been a necessary and important step in the rebirth of the promise of America. Without him we would not see who we have become and without him we would not recognize who we can be again.
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It has been brought to our attention that Margaret is being portrayed as a psychic on $1.99 sites. These sites are doing so without Margaret's permission. Margaret has not claimed she is a psychic. - MW