Pardoned and paroled

President Ford, before swearing-in, had been a good team player on the football field as well as in politics. He pardoned his predecessor and “paroled” more than 130,000 of us into the four corners of the nation. In the process, he “de-obligated” the Treasury from the burden of a fiscal nightmare whose value (democracy advocacy) was having a diminishing return (body counts).

Reinhold Neibuhr once said that, despite, we still have to seek justice in a sinful world. In practical terms, he must have meant those tasks within our purview. Other “none of our business” like genocide and pesticide are up to regimes and tribunal courts to define and apply justice.

A 93-year-old Nazi bookkeeper is finally put on trial (hope he wear his hearing-aid). Other massacres e.g. Armenian, Ukrainian, Cambodian and Nankinese are too far out there – the latest so horrified that after researching and writing about it, the author of The Rape Of Nankin ended up killing herself.

I am a believer in Common Grace – pray for rain on both the fields of good and evil men. Yet I want to be reminded that when it does finally rain, it doesn’t mean it’s because of the hypocrisy of good men, or the invincibility of evil ones. We cannot allow a repeat of Holodomor or Holocaust. And we know it’s women and children who disproportionately bear the brunt of suffering.

That summer of 1975, I learned to wrap my fingers around a football (ready to be a Nittany Lion fan) in between helping unaccompanied minors placed in their new foster homes. I never caught what is now called “compassion fatigue”.

Perhaps I had already been inoculated with untold suffering of my own. Helping others has been my best cure. And unpopular interventions like Pardon and Parole did help – not to mention a few hundred bucks to get started. My Staten Island was Indiantown Gap, once occupied by Native American. They too may be wondering what all the fuss with White Men and Yellow Men, Holodomor and Holocaust, a few hundred bucks to spin the wheel or to start a life. In the game of survival, one first needs to be a team player. Then say a prayer for rain.

President Ford seemed to know that, having kneeled and prayed too many times  before each college game of football. It’s not those winning games that shaped the man. It’s the lost ones that had formed his characters, as a Congressman and President who pulled the plug on the war.

Reinhold Neibuhr was more famous for his Serenity Prayer – “…the wisdom to see the difference between the two (changeable and unchangeable nature of man)”. For many of us, that wisdom is still a gem buried deep down underneath.


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