When John McCain died this week, I was reminded why I don’t like talking about politics.
Apparently in America there is disagreement about what constitutes a hero. We can all probably agree that to be shot down over enemy territory is to be a victim of circumstances. One could possibly even argue that to become a prisoner of war or to receive a purple heart is to be unlucky at best or incompetent at worst. But I find that whole question to be exceptionally distasteful. And I’m not going to talk about politics, but probably if you avoided personally serving in the same war through a medical waiver, it would be better to not cast stones.
This is why I hate talking about politics. Because we ought to be able to give some level of respect to men like John McCain, and Bob Dole, and John Kerry, and Bob Kerrey, and so many others like them who served during wartime and went on to serve in the political realm. It is a colossal mistake to mock the service of those whose politics or personalities we disdain.
I’m not going to talk about politics in this column. But I will say that I’ve grown tired of the complete lack of dignity we see coming from the highest level of leadership in our land.
John McCain was not a hero because he got shot down during wartime.
But some might call him a hero because he served at all. Because he did not look for an excuse or an out to serving. Some might call him a hero because he survived years as an enemy prisoner at great cost to himself and his family, with his integrity and dignity in one piece.
I don’t like talking about politics, because I don’t think John McCain should be ignored as a tremendous American because his personality or his politics aren’t what I would choose in every case.
In closing, since I’m not talking about politics, I’ve seen John McCain called “the last of the American heroes.” Come on people. Look around. The spirit of service did not die with one man. Heroes just like him are all around us, in our communities and in our organizations. A politician who refuses to recognize the greatness in McCain, will refuse to recognize the greatness in any of us.
So I think I avoided politics pretty well in this column. Here’s to making America great. It’s a project that lies with every one of us, not any one man in Washington, D.C. And that’s why I’m not going to talk about politics.