Sunday, November 18, 2012

Time Is A Tattletale

Some things – most things – can only be measured in reference to some “marker.” It is said that when Dorothy Parker of the New Yorker was told that Calvin Coolidge was dead she replied, “How can they tell?”

Our recent election is a “marker” against which the character of the men and women who sought our votes – the winners and the losers – can be judged. How does the winner wear the mantle of victory? With how much magnanimity does the loser receive his or her defeat?

There were, thankfully, “markers” along the way that allowed us to see the candidates’ potential if we were willing to look past our biases (and their self-serving pronouncements). And we hope that, in the majority of cases, the voters judged aright; chose the best person for the office. But it is only in victory and defeat that we see the true nature of the person. They are the “markers” against which the stature of the candidate can be measured. If victors go on to serve ably and humbly: if the defeated return to honorable and constructive endeavors, they will both be granted history’s approval.

History gives us examples of the greatness, and the smallness, of our American politicians; a Richard Nixon, grumbling to reporters after his defeat in the California gubernatorial election, “You won’t have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore,” only to come back again and prove his smallness in the Watergate debacle; or an Adlai Stevenson, graciously accepting the bitterness of his second loss to Dwight Eisenhower in 1956, but returning, nonetheless, to serve his country again as its ambassador to the United Nations during the Kennedy Administration.

Time is a tattletale; it eventually spills all that it has observed. Patience is a virtue in short supply among those seeking places of leadership, but those who practice patience, along with humility and magnanimity, will prove their worth and often be granted places of honor, sometime greater than those they sought but failed to gain.

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