Carole Owens: Greatness and goodness in governance cannot be mutually exclusive | Chroniclers

We are supposed to have noble thoughts on New Years Eve. So, I was wondering …

Who are the great men and women of our time? How do we decide? Is a great man necessarily a good man? Does a great woman shape history, or is she shaped by her? Is it the greatness of what he is trying to accomplish or his ability to accomplish it? Does someone grow up on their own or only with the help of others? Does greatness come from working in harmony or from fighting against the tide? Is there great evil or only great good?

Who is who?

If we can’t decide who’s great, maybe we can decide what characteristics make great. William F. Buckley, in a speech on Winston Churchill, said: “The nobility of his cause and his sense of the moment made him great.

Apparently Buckley said exceptional ability was necessary but not sufficient. Greatness required both ability and a noble cause. Therefore, Buckley recognized only the great good.

A story of heroism

The word hero originates from Greece. Etymologically, the word has passed from Rome to France to England without losing its meaning. Not to mention, of course, that America turned a hero into a sandwich, all recognized heroes had exceptional ability and bravery in the service of mankind, a mixture of superior abilities and splendid deeds.

What is the “sense of the moment”? Genius does not always know more; sometimes genius knows it first. Grown-ups can shape history, be shaped by it, or be the first to recognize when to act.

Churchill visited Germany in the early days of Hitler’s reign and saw the potential for evil. He went home, tried to convince others, and failed. He was left alone, an outcast, until the others caught up with him. Then they begged him to lead. Churchill had talent and a sense of the moment, but what was his noble cause? Churchill said, “You ask, what is our goal? I can answer in one word. It is victory, victory at any cost, victory despite all terror.

At all costs? Churchill’s actions in pursuit of victory were not always virtuous, but his goal – defeating tyranny – always was.

The pursuit of greatness today

What if there were those among us today who were trying to do both – win and do it righteously? Would we recognize them?

We are very impatient. We want instant wins, strong heroes, explosives, decisive shoot-’em-ups and lock-’em-ups. But what if those who attempt a noble cause are slow and measured? What if they speak quietly and don’t carry a large or small staff? Would we recognize them as great?

Will Rogers said: “I do not belong to any organized political party – I am a Democrat.”

As Democrats stumble and stumble in droves, muttering about fulfilling the President’s agenda, protecting democracy and investigating the real crime of the century, I asked readers not to count them just yet. Why? We have no one else and …

What they try is a high-flying act done blindfolded with a broken leg. With only a simple majority (after the vice president’s votes), Congress scrambled to pass legislation to tackle a pandemic, rebuild infrastructure and redistribute some of the wealth to make the poor a little less disadvantaged. Support Biden as he tries to fulfill that consistently stated and rarely implemented American aspiration: equal opportunity. If that wasn’t enough …

The stumbling blocks

The January 6 Committee is trying to catch the bad guys while using the levers of power properly. He is trying to fight those who have learned to use the cogs of our government to overthrow our government and use the language of democracy to undermine the principles of democracy. It’s hard work and the cheers section is lukewarm, preferring victory at all costs.

The January 6 committee could do all of Rambo, bring them together and lock them down. The playing field would definitely change if all those up-and-coming crooks and those claiming the Fifth Amendment did so from prison. It would dampen their enthusiasm.

The January 6 committee could chain them without due process because everyone knows what happened, right? We saw it on TV, right? What if the January 6 Committee abandoned legal process, proper procedure, and decorum – what would happen? The thing the good guys fear most: we would become what we fight: tyrants. The January 6 investigation would become the culmination of January 6: autocracy.

The committee tries to do this as a group without egos and demagoguery in a world where attention is most often drawn by demagoguery. They are trying to defeat a man with the greatest power our form of government can give who said it wasn’t enough and he wanted more.

No one can deny that Trump had a clear idea of ​​when and the ability to win the presidency, but was totally without a noble cause. From his first days in office, he neither honored nor obeyed his oath of office. During his last days in power, to the detriment of our way of life and our way of governing, he only defended and protected himself. The great are neither the wicked nor the failing.

Democrats attempt a high-flying act blindfolded with a broken leg because they virtuously want victory. How will we judge their greatness by their cause or result?

Carole Owens, writer and historian, is a regular Eagle contributor.


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