Al Cashion: Sail on, Oh Ship of State
Winning a verbal contest on a political issue was once as stimulating to me as was the salt spray of the sea in my face as I stood, statuesque, with jutted jaw and firm set brow, at the bowsprit of a swift and powerful clipper ship racing toward exotic ports in the Malay Archipelago.
Ok, a bit of a stretch, a tad hyperbolic.
I didn’t really do that. But were you to have a couple spare tickets for that experience, I would appreciate your generosity greatly.
You get my point though.
Even to be an observer of a televised debate as “my side” was making points that “their side” could not counter or even moderate was exhilarating.
Envision, if you will, a cruel and brutish man laughing with sadistic glee as my side sailed ahead in the race on some political point that seemed of monumental importance at the time.
At least I felt that way on the inside. Swumbo (She Who Must Be Obeyed – my bride) does not allow outward displays of sadistic laughter within the walls of our humble dwelling.
Like the occasional cigar, it is relegated to the woodshop or garden patch.
Life was simple. I had the right friends who were right about their politics. Our pride swelled as we reaffirmed our brilliance and right thinking to one another. Sometimes laughing and mocking the foolishness of the “they.”
Celebrating small, clever lies from “my side” that had effect was common. Raging against the injustice of “their” small, clever lies was frequent as well.
In fairness to me, I had friends who were wrong about politics too. I’m a friendly kinda guy. I will always “suffer fools gladly”. Many have suffered me.
However I have developed a problem. I seem to be without a “side” anymore.
I suppose I still am listing to port to some degree. Or is that starboard? I never can remember.
Let’s just say I have my leanings. Which side of the Ship of State I lean toward is, as I have discovered, absurdly irrelevant.
Truth has no interest in my leanings nor is it changed in its course because I list to port or favor starboard. She is equally dishonored by a lie, an illegitimate verbal construct or hyperbole from “we” or “they”.
She refuses to be bent. She has no patience for the “little white” even if it supports a worthy agenda.
Although slow in coming, with fits and starts and the occasional three steps back, six decades worth, I discovered that Truth will never be on my side. Ever. The realization that I thought it was or could be seems ludicrous to me now.
For reasons of faith and finding answers to questions that had stirred annoyingly in my mind, I discovered that I cannot claim to possess the truth.
I can only allow its possession of me.
Truth will never be because I want it to be. Truth is Truth and should I desire the dance, she calls the tune and steps. The dance can be brutal to the ego but dancing with lies can be brutal, or worse, to life.
To insist that the Ship of State must list to starboard or lean to port is to lose sight of sail, steerage and compass. All focus is on the Port and their ludicrous positions or the Starboard and their sick obsessions, or visa versa.
With keen and practiced eye, we focus on the errors of “they”, and they upon ours.
All the while, the rudder is at the whim of a hostile sea, the errant sails catch opposing wind and the compass unobserved, points to desperate destinations. We arrive at our hopelessness wondering how the voyage brought us here.
Truth has a destination to her voyage. Warring prides and lying egos will not detain her. Lies filled and numbered to her own calculation of forbearance and she will simply take her leave and rest upon another ship and set the compass and trim the sail.
They too, will greet her with open arms and celebrate that Truth had found them on their nascent journey … as once did we.
Longfellow penned the famous poem,
Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State!
Sail on, O Union, strong and great!
Humanity with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate!
And breathless we will hang, if Truth have not her way.