Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Gerald Ford: A man who could embrace obscurity



A real man who didn't sell his true self for power


In December 2004, in his devasting critique of modern media, with its fatal, postmodern divinity, Robert D. Kaplan commented on the character of Gerald Ford:

It may take longer for the realization to seep in that Ford has been our greatest contemporary ex-president. For in an age of mass media - where divinity is dependent upon being noticed by the crowd and being forgotten is the equivalent of excommunication - high character is rightly defined by the willingness to embrace obscurity the moment one relinquishes lofty bureaucratic responsibility.


At the time, I was struck by the depth of the analysis -- and interested in its application to Ford, about whom I knew practically nothing. And yet now, as I compare Ford to say, Jimmy Carter, who keeps surfacing as a media addict, mainlining on the IV drug of annointed visual power, seemingly always with the point of hurting Israel, the wisdom of Kaplan's words is clear.

His words are prophetic, an insightful philosophy of history and human nature. And though he didn't mean it this way, perhaps Kaplan gave the best epitaph that could ever be given a man in a postmodern generation: He had the power to embrace obscurity.

For in an age of mass media - where divinity is dependent upon being noticed by the crowd and being forgotten is the equivalent of excommunication - high character is rightly defined by the willingness to embrace obscurity the moment one relinquishes lofty bureaucratic responsibility.

Gerald Ford was a real man.

3 comments:

Cheryl said...

I don't know that you'll read this since it was written so long ago. However, I feel compelled to respond. Gerald Ford was a good President. Unfortunately, he had the task of dealing with the Watergate issue. At the time, I couldn't understand why he pardoned Nixon. But, I believe I do now...to help the country recover more quickly from the embarrassment of Watergate; to help our country become strong again. LOL, he will also be remembered for the numerous falls. However, I'm writing because I disagree with your statements about Jimmy Carter. He and his wife have done so many things to help others that I have heard people say Jimmy is one of our nation's best former Presidents. Yes, former. He and Rosalyn have not just sat back and done nothing. The renowned Carter Center has helped thousands of people worldwide--immunizing children, irradicating diseases, teaching countries methods of better crop production, helping countries to develop fair elections, etc. I know you didn't mention Rosalyn, but she has done so much to help those who are unfortunately afflicted with mental illness. So what if the media focuses on this? It motivates the general public to become more involved! I know this as a result of volunteering for one of their causes--Jimmy and Rosalyn promote Christianity. They are active with these programs because of their Christian beliefs to help one another. Just go to one of their Habitat For Humanity builds. The Carters physically work hard (pounding nails, painting, dry walling, etc.). They refuse to pose for individual pictures because they want to build that house for the family in need. The Carters do take time, usually on the last day of the build, to visit each Habitat home. They present each family with a Bible (no matter what country they are in) as a cornerstone for every home. Yes, pictures are taken on that day--one group shot at each home. This presents pleasant memories of comradery, compassion, and fun for not only the family but the volunteers. It's the media that chooses whether or not to create and run the stories. But, it is the coverage that also inspires other people to get involved. So, please don't discount Jimmy Carter for the media coverage. I mean no disrespect to Gerald and Betty Ford. They have done great things as well. Jimmy Carter wasn't the best President either. LOL...he had embarrassing moments too. I recall something about a rabbit chasing him.

Cheryl said...

Sorry, I forgot to add this...did you know that Gerry Ford and Jimmy Carter were good friends?

Loy said...

I used to have a lot of respect for Carter... viewing him as a flawed but fairly honest person. However, as I've watched over the last several years, and as I've grown in philosophical and spiritual perception, I've changed my views completely.

I now believe he is very dishonest and self-serving: sold out to the spirit of the age.

note: I think Habitat for Humanity is a GOOD thing; however, if one uses a good platform to accomplish greater evil, then the sum of the life is not good.

I'll be glad to dialogue with you on email about it, btw. Just email me at my name [loymershimer] at gmail dot com.

God bless!

Loy