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A Tide in the Affairs of Men

This column originally appeared as part of the Way of Politics series for the Democracy Cell Project, an IRS-approved 501(c)(3) created by former members of Kerry-Edwards 2004 blog team. The Way of Politics attempted to explore the intersection of religion, spirituality, and politics from a contemporary Deistic or secular and spiritual perspective.

In March of 1776, as momentum built for the historic events that were to come, Abigail Adams wrote her husband John of her belief (quoting Shakespeare) in "a tide in the affairs of men". If there is indeed a tide in the affairs of men, then this nation is as adrift today as the swollen, abandoned bodies of the floating dead of New Orleans.

The waters of irrational religious emotion and radical political ideology rise around us. They threaten the once invulnerable hill upon which Abigail's husband and his contemporaries took their historic stand.

The Revolutionary Generation built their shining city out of the bricks of hard won, carefully sifted, human experience and history. But today so many in this country see experience and history as a hindrance.

They throw caution to the wind, advocate preemptive war over the construction of secure levees and defenses, and treat their ideological fantasies as a set of magic bricks. These bricks appear so potent that our ne'er-do-well President imagines that he can use them to build the empire of his fevered imagination and even fancies that God wills it so! As if God's will could ever be known by mere mortals, except as through a glass, darkly.

I fear that we are fast becoming the kind of monster that John Adams and the Founders rose up to oppose; but there is still time enough to reverse that terrible tide. Oh God, may the awful sight of our dead bring us back to our senses.

May the shock of their untimely deaths jar our collective memory

May it reawaken in us the wisdom of men, whose sacrifice, commitment, and courage gave birth to this nation and with it, a spontaneously generated, still unfolding, ever expanding tide of freedom, dignity, and democracy.

May the loss of so many innocents put an end to our delusions.

May it sear in the mind's eye these three lessons: that a well-funded, energetic government is the foundation of contemporary civilization; that concern for the physical safety and survival of our communities must forever trump ideological insanity; and that there are times when a nation's greatest impact, on this tide in the affairs of men, can only come through cultivation of their own garden.

Matthew Carnicelli, © 2005. All rights reserved.
Originally published on September 4, 2005, as part of The Way of Politics series.