First: It turns out it wasn’t just me! I woke up the morning of November 7th with a highly unusual urge to set things in order. I cleaned a closet and a bathroom before breakfast. No, really—you can look it up on Snopes. And it turned out this was no isolated phenomenon. My sister Abby described Wednesday morning at her house:
We cleaned everything. We soaked the stove knobs in ammonia. We cleaned the dried milk drops off the hutch. We cleaned UNDER the microwave and all the couches. We used up the ammonia and the bleach (but not at the same time). We cleared surfaces of objects that had been invisible before the election…
I took everything off my countertop, sorted it, washed all the containers, scrubbed the counter, and put it all back, folded lots of laundry, sorted Damien's socks, and swept under the dryer. That'll show 'em!
What has come over the women of America (not the Sandra Flukes, the other ones)? I think we would have liked to clean house on a larger scale—scrub down the president, the vice president, the senators, the governor, the mayor, the local board of regents, and the assistant dog-catcher—or else give them the Flylady ultimatum.
That’s when you inquire of all the clutter in your house: Do I love you? Do you make me happy? Do you serve some useful purpose? Yes? Then you can stay. Do you depress me? Are you more trouble than you’re worth? Have I outgrown you? Yes? Then you’ll have to go.
As it was, I did what I could. I addressed some things I do have power over. Family harmony and hygiene increased markedly around here.
Thank you, Mr. President.
Second: I’m not sure if this was widespread or not, but I was inspired to educate my kids better, faster, more engagingly. Today we went over the Bill of Rights (with those awful Star Wars fruit snacks for memorization incentive), and I was struck by how far the country has strayed. No, the bit about the government forcing you to let passing soldiers sleep on your sofa hasn’t come up lately, but other encroachments were glaringly evident. (This lesson wasn’t a fire-breathing call to arms, just a straightforward explanation of phrases like “free exercise,” “enumerated rights” and “reserved to the States.” The document speaks for itself.)
would have been startled to see Mayor Bloomberg feeling free to mess with it.
In any case, if worse comes to worse, and I think it will, I want my children to know what America was supposed to be and to live by its ideals solo if need be. If worse doesn’t come to worse, a solid education will make the restoration of those ideals easier.
Thank you, Mr. President, for the inspiration.
Third: As someone pointed out, you have to give Mr. Obama credit: he’s achieved something no one had ever managed before: complete unanimity among the bishops. Every single one joined together to protest his encroachment on our conscience rights.
But the bishops failed, didn’t they?
Not so fast.
They certainly failed to singlehandedly convince those few million extra Catholics (or other freedom-respecting people) to vote for somebody more respectful of life and religion. But some 49 million citizens did vote for Romney; others voted for other non-Obama candidates or didn't vote at all. Scant comfort, yes. I wish the bishops’ dedication had produced quicker and more tangible results. I wish laypeople like me had done a little better with the prayer and fasting they asked of us, too.
But you have to start somewhere.
If we had begun the conversations we’re having now, like “What’s So Terrible about Contraception?” and “What Exactly is Marriage?” a few decades ago, things would be looking brighter today. But this is precisely not the time to give up on those conversations. I talked to someone today who sincerely thought that the Catholic Church requires people to force themselves--by willpower, or something--to believe things that make no sense.
She’d also been under the impression that we think there's no truth whatsoever in any other religion. She was happily surprised to learn otherwise.
As long as people are laboring under rudimentary misconceptions like this, they’re not likely to jump on board for a rejection of birth control.
So, thank you, Mr. President, for threatening us so unmistakeably that our complacency has vanished, our unity is strengthened, and our delusions about getting out of this one without a lot more prayer and fasting are pretty much dispelled.
Thank you for convincing us that we need to be at the top of our game--from the shine on our stove knobs to the subtlety of our apologetics--for whatever you might throw at us next.