TORONTO - Some people have a moral compass. They try to live out their lives in the context of social values which raise to virtually unattainable levels the collective ideals that romantics for [perceived] bygone eras set as standards for their Country’s ethic. They embody the concept of national duty and obligation toward one’s fellow citizen.
John McCain was such a man.
Typically, we shower the dead with praises we would be loath to acknowledge in their presence as living members of our community. Senator McCain earned his and received them when he was among the living.
Stoic in rough times, determined in more favourable circumstances – a class act in “war and peace”. An unsuccessful candidate for the highest office of the land, he soldiered-on unflinchingly for those ideals that used to characterize America of the past.
Was he right all the time? Unlikely. Still, he was a hero in an unpopular war that, some would argue, transformed America, suffering the indignities of psychological and physical torture for five years as a prisoner in a Vietnamese compound.
He did it for his country – his friends, neighbours and the value structure that spawned American Democracy, even with all its warts and flaws. Others skirted duty.
That sense of duty seemed to permeate and motivate his political cursus honorem. It won him the respect of other politicos on the “other side of the political divide”. The public, national interest superseded the more narrow, partisan ones.
A rarity in today’s hyper-partisan Congressional environment; or, in fact, our own Canadian Parliament.
It seems he took seriously the concept of public office for the good of “God and country”. “God” being frequently/publicly inter-changeable with “the people”.
But he was unbending towards those people who would spuriously tear down and denigrate others. He made no exception for their station: humble or proud, woman or man, partisan heckler or President.
He sought election to office “to do something” rather than “to be somebody”. There is a shortage of such people.
That shortage just increased with the passing of John Mc Cain.