Wednesday, March 19, 2008

To Liberate the Repressed

I spent the better part of last week steeling myself to help my wife deal with the death of her grandmother, who passed away after an extended bout with multiple physical ailments as well as dementia. Malinda Heaney let her light of Christian love shine for nearly 103 years, and I am a better man for having known her. As was evident at her homegoing yesterday, she inspired those she cared for to care for others out of the depths of their own souls.

As best as I am able to gather, the signal characteristic of her cohort was an appreciation for a certain modesty of manner, a singular ability to stifle thoughts, feelings or desires that might bring disrepute to oneself or one's family. Some of this plainness might be a product of life in small-town southern Minnesota, but I am persuaded that there was a generational esteem for a prudent reticence.

This gift of self-repression - the ability to silence the chattering id - is very much lost on the generations that succeeded Malinda's. Decades of the Left's efforts to erode any modicum of personal reserve have rendered us all a bit too in touch with our inner child. As progressives have seen fit to bastardize the motto of the U.S. Army Special Forces to their own purposes from De Oppresso Liber to De Represso Liber, any pretensions of unpretentiousness are seen now as either a vestigial organ to be excised or a social disease to be cured.

To our... well not shame really (lest our inflated sense of self be damaged by exposure to societal conventions), maybe to our momentary embarrassment - we can now recount recent instances when a bit of repression of ego might have been in order.
Even as we attempt to decipher whether "Client 9" or his consort will have the better post-scandal career, we are confronted by news of his successor's previous infidelities. All the while - in newspapers quite literally from New York to L.A. - we are told that fidelity is not even for the birds, but best modeled by parasitic worms. For my part, I have been as of yet unable to convince Malinda's granddaughter (or her son) of the unreality of marital fidelity. And so on my behalf, and that of married men elsewhere, a dollop of repression of a good many things is in order.

Would that the progressive political class could repress their own seemingly irrepressible psyches. Sen. Barack
"Houdini" Obama sought by power of speech to loose himself from the verbal baggage of his former pastor. (Apropos of not much, like Obama, I too was married at a ceremony officiated by Jeremiah Wright; I can only hope that Obama's vows took better than mine.) And while Obama attempts to hate the sin and love the sinner, he exposes the central dilemma of progressives, that of how to despise America sufficiently to maintain their liberal credentials without alienating the 49.99 percent of Americans who think that we live in a pretty decent country. Relying on hope over experience, I would recommend that Democratic politicians try to keep their "Hate America First" instincts repressed (at least until November 5th.)

Lest we be remiss, we will note on this 5th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War the clear distinction to be made between the fruit of repression and that of its fraternal twin oppression. As Iraqis attempt to emerge from the shadow of death - first at the hands of a brutal Baathist dictatorship and now by the devices of a cruel insurgency - freedom loving people give their first allegiance to the men and women who repress the weaknesses of their own flesh in order to repel the forces of entropy.

Beyond an instinctive fear of death, those who come as liberators must repress their own homesickness, loneliness, fatigue and even boredom that they might secure the blessings of liberty for those who have been thus far denied as much. And therein lies the difference. Doubtless, the yoke of oppression is best broken by the repression of fear of the oppressor. It is the avoidance of the equally necessary and inevitable conflict with dictators, tyrants and despots (an emerging specialty of the Left) that enables their evildoing.

Conversely (or perhaps similarly, I'm not sure), it was a love that passed understanding that enabled a woman frail and enfeebled by old age to repress her own preconceived notions in order to make room in her heart for a dark stranger who would try his best to love her granddaughter. As I said, I am made better by having known Malinda Heaney. Sadly, our world is made a bit worse by her absence from it. My prayer, and Malinda's as well I will presume, is that the love wherewith she cared for her family and friends may abide in us all.

Requiescat in pace.

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