I’m from a small town in Ohio called Zanesville. It was an alright place to grow up in, though like so many small American towns the only things that prosper in it are banks and car washes. Much of the town has vegetated economically, and that reality is reflected in the empty spaces where homes and business used to be. My family used to ask me when I would move back there. My reply was, “When Jesus Christ Himself walks through the wall, puts me in a headlock and forces me to.”
From time to time I check out the online version of my hometown newspaper, the Zanesville Times Recorder. I’ve always had something against that paper because when I was in the 2nd grade back in 1962, I and another boy were hit by a car. I was trying to keep up with him on the way home from school. Why is another story. But we both ended up in the hospital, thankfully, instead of the grave. He got a broken leg out of it and I was just so banged up that I was in bed for a month, or was it two… anyway it was a long stretch to my eight year old sense of time. I remember how angry I was when I read the newspaper article that said we got hit playing tag, which wasn’t true. When I finally got home from the hospital I had to learn to walk again since my legs were so weak from lying in bed that long. The white cotton shirt I’d worn when I got creamed by a very nice lady’s Volkswagen (she came to see us in the hospital) was draped over a kitchen chair. The new fashion additions to it were ragged holes and a very visible black tire mark. I was incredulous. And people thought I got this for playing tag. They said so more than once. I hated that paper.
Thanks for permitting that brief aside, but I still see that the Times Recorder lives up to its name, recording superficial events but not writing with any heart. As I said, I checked out the paper online earlier this evening. To my surprise the front page headline said, “Michelle Obama talks issues in Zanesville.”
“Michelle Obama took a private tour of the Zanesville Day Nursery this afternoon and then sat down with some local women to discuss work and child care issues.”
Evidently some of the mothers got the chance to lay their tales of financial woe on the potential first lady. The common denominator was the price of day care and the small amount of quality time families actually get to spend together.
"Our son spends more time in day care than we would like, but we don't have a choice," she said. "We pay $190 a week for day care, that's sounds like a lot and it's a lot for us. It's definitely a challenge."
If you knew that a very rich and politically dominant family got that way from building a financial empire ripping people off in various ways, wouldn’t you say that the way they got rich was a bigger story than the fact that they were rich? Most people would. But it seems that our clear perception in one area becomes amnesia in another.
The big story was a political celebrity showing up in a one horse town like Zanesville, Ohio. The bigger but invisible story is why American citizens bleed freely before a political celebrity when the President of the United States (actual or potential), and certainly not his wife, aren’t supposed to have anything to do with the issues the women were relating. The fact that this is completely and totally unnoticed poignantly testifies to the fact that the stone is crying out of the wall but only the beam out of the timber answers (Hab. 2:11).
American lips love to shape the word “democracy” and shake their empty heads in pity at “backward” countries that still have anachronisms like kings and queens. But in typical schizoid American fashion we fall at the feet of our public officials with shamefulness unknown where actual kings and queens still exist.
One of the qualities that set America apart from other nations was the desire and insistence that the average person would have the chance to see to their own affairs without interference from kings and queens or those who would play the tyrant in whatever role. Without this attitude, there is no America. Clearly this attitude, while not gone, should be on the endangered species list. The American body continues on life support but it appears to have given up the ghost.
Yet it is to be hoped that this appearance truly is appearance, and that a healthy and robust understanding of life and government can be revived from the dying embers glowing weakly orange at the feet of the Obamas and Clintons when they should be burning them.