With the United States Open tennis tournament and the National Football League season upon us I can't help but reflect upon the notion of "the will to win."
Those of us appalled by the assault upon "liberty and justice for all" by the Bush league have to ask ourselves, "Do we have the will to win?"
This is no time for namby-pamby calls for restraint. Anyone who watched the Williams sisters in the Wimbledon final this year recalls one of the sisters sending a blooper over the net and the other, rather than slamming the ball back for a sure winner as a true opponent would have done, returned the ball with all the kindness one should expect from a sister.
America's life is at stake and we cannot afford to respond with sisterly restraint to the vituperative assaults upon the educated class by representatives of the Republican Party and their constituency of religious zealots.
If you think comparing those who would refashion America into an autocratic state recapitulating the worst aspects of repressive religious fundamentalism with those who would ensure a separation of church and state is anything other than a reflection of the voters' level of education, check the demographics.
Educated Americans cannot, must not cede our country to the vociferous rabble. It is time to get tough, to manifest the will to win.
Yes, appeals to the irrational, to the basest aspects of human nature effectively motivates the unsophisticated. And yes, effective utilization of this predisposition for hatred and aggression is precisely the sort of primitive tactic educated people find repellant.
Nevertheless, our determination must be the equal of theirs, though our methods ought to reflect the intelligent strategy of sophisticated leadership.
Consider the Oakland Raiders. For years the Raiders employed physical intimidation precisely the sort employed by conservatives in the Bible Belt to deny blacks their civil rights to dominate the NFL. (Overt racism is still employed effectively by the Republican Party to get their constituents to the polls on Election Day. No doubt in the forthcoming election Republicans will also fan the flames of homophobia, such is the despicable nature of their tactics.)
Regarding the Raiders, times have changed. Opponents have raised the level of their game; they're just as tough, just as willing to do "Whatever it takes, Baby!" Whether opponents win or lose now depends on the sophistication of their offensive and defensive strategies.
Thinking people, America's true patriots, must commit to doing the same. We must attack, but in a fashion representative of our predisposition to reasoned thought.
Yes, decency is the first and preferable choice of the refined but our rhetoric must be impassioned, insightful and unrelenting. We must know our enemy, assess their weaknesses with a clear, dispassionate eye.
We cannot persuade those predisposed to rage and hatred to abandon their inimical worldview. But we must make evident to the complacent that inertia among the educated nurtures the agenda of those who provide the greatest threat to America's future.
Do we value education? Do they?
Shall we continue to permit those devoid of the breadth of vision provided by higher education to infiltrate every significant policy making office from local school boards to the presidency? Shall we allow them to make their rigid, uniformed agenda America's agenda?
If we value and demand the finest education possible for our children should we not ensure America reflects the sophisticated worldview of the educated?
Permitting those with the least education, the narrowest vision, to elect leaders representing their worldview can only be catastrophic in the long run. Shall we be a lowest-common-denominator nation?
Frightened, superstitious people do not make rational, informed decisions. If we continue to allow them to do so, who bears the greater responsibility?
Therefore, our will to win must manifest each and every Election Day to be sure, but most especially during the next presidential election. If ever you needed an example of the least informed, the frightened and superstitious choosing a leader who best represents them, look to George W. Bush and consider the consequences of the Supreme Court's decision.
The will to win necessitates the same self-motivation demonstrated by tennis and football professionals. Only you can make yourself get off the couch and wait on that interminable line on voting day. For those of you who still have jobs, your responsibilities at work are important but more important than America's future, your children's future?
The determinedly ignorant have driven a thousand great cultures into dust. We cannot allow it to happen here.
R.H. Joseph is a longtime employee of the News Daily. He may be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 252, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.