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Janus (Vatican)

According to Sir Winston Churhill, “[t]he further backwards you look, the further forward you can see” (quoted by Christopher Andrew).

Well, my last three blogs were devoted to a group of poets, three poets, who felt that the French language had come of age and proved it had. However, they watched helplessly and mournfully religious wars which, in sixteenth-century France, pitted brother against brother. In the sixteenth century, France witnessed not just violence, but violence in the name of religion?

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Our three poets had been schooled in the wisdom of Greece where Plato and Aristotle had taught moderation. When Henri de Navarre became King of France, as Henri IV, he converted to catholicism saying that “Paris [the kingship of France]was well worth a Mass.” (Paris vaut bien une messe.)[i]

Was he a hypocrite? I doubt it. I should think he wanted to put an end to the “miseries of these times” (Pierre de Ronsard (11 September 1524 – December 1585). After Henri IV became king, in 1589, he worked at reconciliation and, in 1598, he enacted the Edict of Nantes which guaranteed a degree of tolerance towards French Calvinist Protestants, the Huguenots. The Edict of Nantes was revoked in October 1685 by Louis XIV.

The Hanging Tree or Les misères de la guerre, by Jacques Callot

(please click on the picture to enlarge)

Moving forward, why would an Obama or a Romney seek the Presidency of the United States? Being President of the United States is a great honour, but it is also a heavy burden. I know that President Obama did not seek the Presidency because he craved power. Morever, not once has he spoken against his predecessor. President Obama is President of the United States because he wanted to serve his people, which he has done tirelessly.

As for Mr Romney, no true conservative would raise him to the leadership of the Republican party. It would appear, however, that there is an enlightened element in the Republican party, people who also think Mr Romney would not seek the presidency simply to gain power. I may be wrong, but I believe that he too is aware of the “miseries of these times,” the present time. He seems the better candidate, but I have not observed him long enough.

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Look back. With the notable exceptions of Abraham Lincoln, tell me whether any Republican President has done the nation, the US, any genuine good?

“Good?” Allow me to be more precise. A good president thinks first and foremost about the welfare of his nation. Under a good president Washington builds social programs that take away poverty and ensures that people look after their health. It means paying taxes, but taxes commensurate with one’s income, i.e. taxes that do not impoverish anyone. If the returns justify the means, paying taxes, a small amount, is not a great evil.

I should think the US also requires comprehensive social programs, universal medicare in particular, better schools, so its electorate knows what it is doing when it casts a ballot. It also needs more reasonable defence expenses. In this respect, I should think the US does not need an arsenal the size the of Texas, particularly when Americans are basically fighting against one another.

Moreover, I should also think the United States also needs regulations, yes regulations. Why are the wealthy getting wealthier by shipping too many jobs outside the US, making US citizens irrelevant while they also refuse to pay their fair share of taxes? There is nothing wrong with paying taxes if doing so ensures a degree of comfort and stability to all Americans. People need jobs to put food on the table and be suitably and affordably housed. As for Washington, it needs money to ensure the well-being of the nation.

Religious Tolerance

Besides, the US needs a measure of religious tolerance. Will Americans use the fact that he is a Mormom to throw darts at Mr Romney? There are far too many nations where people turn themselves into explosives to destroy those whose religion is different from theirs. In another words, if a person’s creed does not cause his neighbour harm, why use that person’s creed to keep him or her out of the way. That is bigotry, and it isn’t acceptable.

And will Americans again seek to impeach a president because of a minor sexual indiscretion yet allow his successor to impoverish the nation and nations with whom the US has financial ties. If you only knew what harm has been done to my pension plan. Just yesterday, it occurred to me that Canadians might have to make assisted-suicide legal to save from the pain of poverty people who have been the victims of needlessly fluctuating markets and Republicans who kept the world waiting when the debt-limit had to be raised, knowing they would raise it.

The last ignominy was the refusal on the part of Congress to extend the payroll tax cut. And they did so as Christmas dinner was being prepared.  Thankfully, President Obama went to the nation to oppose a senseless and again impoverishing act.  And, thankfully, smart Republicans got on the telephone and ran to their computers to talk or write some sense into the head of the robots in Congress. As I have written in other blogs, robots do not think. Robots are programmed. As a result, they are likely to cut their own nose to spite their face.

Dear Americans, you have the best of Presidents, a dream come true, yet you have been sabotaging his effort to help you. Shame of those of you who had any part in this kerfuffle.

A few days ago, just before Republicans voted in Iowa, I heard candidates say: “The first thing we will do when we are in office is kill ‘Obamacare.’ ” Just what is Obama care and just what is Romney care? Beware of insurance companies. They may realize that life itself is a “pre-existing condition.” It kills every one.

And then I heard the expected: “Obama-has-not-delivered-on any-of-his-promises.” Look back. President Obama prevented another depression, he instituted a health-care programme and he has brought the soldiers home. He and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have made America safer than it has ever been by listening to other leaders and refraining from meddling in the affairs of other countries.

As a teacher, I had to tell students about the Religious Wars and the Crusades. I showed them prints by Jacques Callot (The Miseries of War), and pictures of Huguenots being burned or boiled to death. They would exclaim that we were lucky to live in the present age. I would say: wait a minute. What about the six million Jews Hitler sent to the gas chamber and used for barbaric medical experiments?

“The further backwards you look, the further forward you can see.”  This is true, but the misery of the sixteenth century, “the miseries of these times,” are the “miseries of our times.” Think of the young veterans.  They were put on anti-depressants when they were in Iraq and Afghanistan and now many are committing suicide. They know about the “miseries of our times.”

Good leaders go to school, they think everything out at great length before they are elected into office, they do not defame their predecessors, they travel a middle-course and they look after their people, be they white, black, somewhere in between, rich or poor.

The French should take back to Statue of Liberty.  Their national motto is:  “Liberté, égalité, fraternité.”  

Sainte-Colombe: Les Pleurs – Savall, Coin

(please click on Les Pleurs [tears] to hear music)

[i] In 1610, the “bon roi Henri,” was assassinated by François Ravaillac, a fanatical Catholic.