“Progress by its very name indicates a direction; and the moment we are in the least doubtful about the direction, we become in the same degree doubtful about the progress.” – G.K. Chesterton
In the final days of the campaign, the slogan of President Obama caught my attention, and it has provided much food for thought because I think it is emblematic of where we are as a country.
Purely from an advertising/branding standpoint it is brilliant. The period says so much. The period also is the only way to answer all of the concerns that undecided voters surely had about the President. The slogan is liberalism summed up in a word and a punctuation mark. Don’t ask questions about how we got to this point, don’t ask questions about whether or not someone is to blame, don’t ask questions if we’ve learned lessons from the past, don’t ask about Benghazi or the economy, don’t ask questions about whether or not Obamacare is a good idea, don’t ask questions about the HHS Mandate, don’t ask questions about contraception and its effects on women.
In short – don’t ask questions about where we’ve come from and don’t ask questions about where we ought to go. The only thing we can do is go FORWARD.
An exclamation point doesn’t work – it sounds aggressive, like the cry of a general to troops at the front of a war. A question mark surely also sends the wrong message – “Should we go forward?” – who would answer “no” to that question?
People who are overly-nervous and anxious are always moving; they can’t sit still. People who don’t want to do the tough work and acknowledge that some things are actually good and some things are actually bad choose to be jittery as well – “JUST KEEP MOVING FORWARD!” they yell at us who stop to ask a question about where exactly it is that we are going.
FORWARD. Just go forward, no matter where forward is, even if it is over a moral or fiscal cliff, today the only thing that we think is good anymore is moving somewhere, even though we can no longer talk about right/wrong/good/evil – the words that, in the past, have always been used to gauge whether a destination was worthy of our traveling there.
Of course history screams out to us and reminds us that from 1940 to 1945 the German people moved forward chronologically. In the 1920’s, the Communist Party moved forward in Russia. We are all in agreement that those were bad “forwards”; a fourth grader can point to lots of examples in history where things did NOT get better simply by watching the calendar move “forward”, but at the same time we convince ourselves that we must move “forward” no matter where that is, because apparently today if we just move forward and don’t ask questions, it will all work out.
Pastor Chesterton…brings us home:
“Every one of the popular modern phrases and ideals is a dodge in order to shirk the problem of what is good…the modern man says “Away with your old moral formulae; I am for progress.” This, logically stated, means, “Let us not settle what is good; but let us settle whether we are getting more of it.” He says, “Neither in religion nor morality, my friend, lie the hopes of the race, but in education.” This, clearly expressed, means, “We cannot decide what is good, but let us give it to our children.”