Real voices

There seems to be some misconception in popular culture about objective truth. There is such a thing as objective truth. Some things are true. Some things are false. Not everything you hear said is true. So today, I would like to simply state a few objective truths.

George Washington was a real man. He is not just an idea or a symbol or a carving on the mountain, though he may be all of these. He was an actual, living, breathing human man. He was born on February 22, 1732. He did December 14, 1799. We know this because there are all kinds of letters and papers and writings that he left behind. We know it because he sat for portrait after portrait. We know it because his false teeth are in the Smithsonian Institution. They aren’t wooden, by the way. They are made out of human teeth and animal teeth and elephant ivory carved to fit. They couldn’t have been very comfortable. They didn’t open and chew properly and most likely he rarely put them in. But they exist and they were actually in his mouth. The mouth of a real human being. He is known as the father of our country. He was our first President. He wrote, in his own hand, “Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.” He didn’t actually compose the rules, but copied them from an English translation of a 16th century Jesuit treatise. Maybe he wrote them to practice penmanship. We’ll never know. What we do know is that they shaped his character.

John Adams was a real man. He was born October 30, 1735 in the Province of Massachusetts Bay. He died July 4, 1826. We know this because he too left behind letters and official writings and journals. And because his family wrote about him and described him. He too sat for portraits. He enshrined in the Massachusetts Constitution that ours is “a government of laws and not of men.” The principle he established understood that people are mortal, but we are able to engage in enterprises which are larger than ourselves. When our leaders are sworn into office, whether it be the President of the United States or a legislator or a deputy sheriff in a small isolated county, they promise to uphold and protect the constitution and laws. This is not a matter of opinion. This is really true.

Abraham Lincoln was a real man. They called him the great emancipator. He is the one who wrote “Government of the people, by the people, shall not perish from the earth. He was born February 12, 1809 and died April 15, 1865 as the result of an assassin’s bullet. We know he was real because of portraits and letters and journals and news articles and statues and the eloquent quotes that are engraved into the walls of the Lincoln Monument in Washington DC. We also know he was real because we live in a nation where slavery has been abolished, though the traces left by this abhorrent practice still have an effect on our culture and our people.

Donald Trump is a real man. Trump is more than a brand or the fancy letters on some skyscraper. It is more than the lettering on a cap. There is a real man, born June 14, 1946. He is 6’3’ tall. He has been married three times. He has founded many different companies, including at least five that filed for bankruptcies. More than a dozen failed. But he is no doubt real. He is the President of the United States.

The survivors of the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School are real. They are not as some Internet trolls have suggested, actors playing their part in some vast conspiracy. They are real, living, breathing people. And they are not the only ones deeply affected by school shootings. Their parents and the parents of the victims. And the survivors and victims of the other school shootings that have ravaged our country like a plague in less than a decade since the Columbine High School massacre.

One of those very real survivors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is senior Samuel Zeif. He met the very real Donald Trump face to face at the White House this week. He asked a very real question: “How did we not stop this after Columbine? After Sandy Hook?” One of his best friends died. “That’s why I’m here,” he said. “I lost my best friend; he was practically a brother. I’m here to use my voice because I know he can’t.” He also said to the President, and the Vice President, who also is a real man, and the Secretary of Education, who is a real woman, “I don’t understand. I turned 18 the day after, woke up to the news that my best friend was gone. And I don’t understand why I could still go in a store and buy a weapon of war.”

I pray that the very real people in the room might have touched one another reply enough to have made a lasting impression. Because the situation of our nation isn’t about theories or donor bases or campaign donations or any other matters of speculation. It is about real people.

And real people have the power to make real laws and to live by them.

This is objectively true.

Parkland survivors have also spoken at Florida’s state capital i Tallahassee. They have spoken out on the news and the Internet. They have been joined by thousands of other high school students across the nation in calling upon all of us to do something to prevent future school shootings. They are real and their voices are real and their opinions matter.

Unlike members of Congress, who truly are motivated by money and constantly in search of doors be they individuals or corporations or lobbying groups, these teens aren’t motivated by money. Their passion is not fake. It is real.

We ignore them at our own peril. They won’t go away. They are real.

Copyright (c) 2018 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!