In an interview shown by ABC's Good Morning America this past Wednesday, the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq, Vice President Dick Cheney dismissed the overwhelming opinion of the American people with the response, “So?” Here is exactly what was said:
CHENEY: On the security front, I think there’s a general consensus that we’ve made major progress, that the surge has worked. That’s been a major success.
RADDATZ: Two-third of Americans say it’s not worth fighting.
RADDATZ So? You don’t care what the American people think?
CHENEY: No. I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls.
If these numbers existed in Congress it would be a veto-proof majority and the war could end now. Most everyone read the election results two years ago as a referendum on the war and expected the new Congress to act. So perhaps it is understandable that the Vice President is not too concerned about public opinion since even when it is expressed through the democratic process it is still largely ignored.
In a painfully ironic twist after much media attention focused on the words of one preacher suggesting that God may not be blessing America, the 4000th American soldier died in Iraq on Easter Sunday. For Christians, Easter is the holiest day of the year and the single word message of that day is hope. Yet, in the face of blind indifference to the will of the American people and the suffering of the soldiers, veterans and their families, it becomes increasingly difficult to be a hope-monger.
Hope for America lies not in blithely declaring “God bless America” as if invoking the Almighty is sufficient to justify any action. Hope for America lies not in some change in leadership as if some particular individual or party will save us. Hope for America lies not in trusting in our strength, whether military or economic. Hope for America lies not in believing that we can do no wrong.
Hope for America lies where it always has; squarely in the lap of the individual. For too long we have believed an American myth that endless resources and power exist for each individual to possess. We have strayed too far from the initial patriotic cry that we must all hang together or we will hang separately. If two-thirds of us truly oppose this war then we must exert our will and not simply accept the current misguided leadership. Hope for America lies in being a community committed to the common good, not a collection of self-serving individuals and bickering groups. When Christians proclaim at Easter that Christ is risen, we are at least in part declaring that Christ is present in the world in the lives of the believers. May those of us who celebrated that message of hope this past Sunday believe enough in the strength of community to manifest the Prince of Peace to a world desperately needing that presence today.