Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I remember where I was when I first understood that Ronald Reagan wasn't going to be the president anymore. I was downstairs in the fellowship hall at the A.C. church in Hyattsville, MD. It was 1988, and I was swilling down some punch with a big glob of vanilla ice cream in it. Sitting on the edge of the stage I listened to my Mom and some other women talking in the nearby kitchen. There was a little window in the wall between the fellowship hall and the kitchen through which I listened to their talk with half an ear. Over the clatter of dishes I heard one of the women say, "It will be strange not having Reagan as President anymore." That statement arrested me.

I was born during the the Carter administration, but as far back as I could remember Ronaldus Magnus had been at the helm. It was the height of the cold war and my view towards the Soviets was not a nuanced one. To me, they were evil and dangerous. They were the reason why we held drills at Ridgecrest Elementary School, right outside of Washington D.C., in preparation for a nuclear attack. I have in my mind's eye a memory of me and all my classmates under our desks in first grade. At that time I couldn't comprehend the complexities of the cold war, but I could vaguely apprehend the horrors of nuclear war. The cold war and all of its attendant fears were woven into the fabric of our culture in those days. It was present in the TV I watched and in the adult conversations I overheard. Little pitchers have big ears, and despite my parent's efforts to shield us from such unpleasant concepts as our imminent destruction I had managed to soak up enough to make me deathly afraid of those dreaded initials- U.S.S.R.

My view towards Reagan was also not a nuanced one. In my mind he was akin to a shining knight. He was all that stood between my family and the ever menacing Soviets- a wall that held back the hordes of godless Soviet Bogey men from all that I held dear.

"It will be strange not having Reagan as President anymore."

Strange? ...more like terrifying, I thought.

I finished off my punch, letting the aforementioned glob of ice cream slide down the waxed cardboard interior of the cup, then I made my way over to my Dad who was sitting talking with another man from the church.

"Dad, is Ronald Reagan not going to be the president anymore?" I interrupted.

My Dad looked at me half-distractedly (maybe annoyed), and said with a nonchalant air, "Right...yep...that's right." Then he resumed his conversation with the man.

I walked away and got another cup of punch (the ice cream was all melted or skimmed off the top by then). The inner turmoil I had experienced moments before had been resolved. Dad didn't seem concerned, and so I decided I didn't need to be either.

Sometimes I wish I was still ten, but doesn't God want me to be like a ten year old in my posture towards Him? Is it possible for me to resolve the turmoil I feel when looking at world events by simply meditating on the fact that God, my Abba Father, does not share that turmoil?

Isaiah 40:22-25

22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.

23 He brings princes to naught
and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.

24 No sooner are they planted,
no sooner are they sown,
no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.

25 "To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One.

1 comment:

Tate said...

In August 1988, I heard both President Reagan and the First Lady speak in Washington DC at a youth conference. I was 14 and security was tight.