This Thanksgiving, I experienced something I never dealt with before. I wanted desperately to be thankful for something and just couldn’t find a way to do it and, at the same time, be intellectually honest. Let me explain.
This column doesn’t have space enough to catalog the reasons I have to be grateful. I can’t even list all the categories. Countless events occurring before I was born paved the way for blessings I enjoy today. The wisdom of great political thinkers and the decisions they made produced the greatest economic, educational, medical and political opportunities in the history of mankind. The unbelievable resource of this country were drawn together by ingenuity and industry to produce a model for prosperity that may prove to be the end of poverty worldwide. The courage of our veterans whose sacrifice and commitment served as an unbreakable bulwark held back the tide of advancing tyranny. The life-saving advances in medicine produced by this country’s researchers vanquished diseases like smallpox and polio that killed and crippled millions of people before American scientists unlocked the keys to prevention.
I could go on for days about the spadework done by brave resourceful men and women that made our comfortable secure standard of living possible.
Then there’s a whole universe of reasons why I’m thankful for my parents. Each day of my life I enjoy the fruits of lessons they taught me; the fundamentals of self-respect, work, cleanliness and integrity. I remember my father saying, “If a man pays you to load 25 bricks, load 30 for him. That way, you’ll distinguish yourself from other laborers.” And I recall my mother saying, “You don’t need to be ashamed of your appearance if your clothes are clean and your hair is combed.” The lessons they taught, which enabled me to get ahead in life are too numerous to list here.
Then of course there are countless friends, teachers, coaches, teammates, fellow soldiers, professors, fellow students, authors, poets, actors, singers, scientist, political leaders and others whose behavior, words, lives and teachings contributed to the blessings I enjoy today.
In recent years, as I rejoice for my family and delight in each milestone we experience as the grandchildren grow up, I am grateful that their young lives are not overshadowed by the fear of nuclear war. Many of us who grew up in the ’50s faced almost daily reminders that the Soviet Union was a nuclear power capable of initiating a war that might result in the death of every living creature on the planet. When the Soviet Union disbanded on Dec. 26, 1991, millions of us breathed a sigh of relief believing that our children and grandchildren would be forever shielded from the terrible threat of nuclear destruction.
This Thanksgiving, the nation is reflecting on the announcement that the United States and other Western powers have reached a nuclear agreement with Iran. For the past few years, we have, sadly, witnessed the rebirth of nuclear anxieties. North Korea, a nation that apparently has little regard for the sanctity of human life, world peace or regional stability, now has its finger on the nuclear trigger. This was made possible, in part, by nonproliferation deals that we celebrated and now regret. Though we are constantly assured that North Korea does not have the means to deliver a nuclear strike on the United States, this is, nevertheless, a source of nagging anxiety to those of us reflecting on the world we are leaving our children and grandchildren.
Disclaimers notwithstanding, Iran seems desperate to position itself not only as the great power in the Middle East, but also as the tireless defender of Islam in a jihad against Western infidels. Acquisition of a nuclear weapon would set off a frenzy of nuclear developments in the region as Iran’s suspicious neighbors scramble to maintain a semblance of a balance of power.
If, through skillful negotiation, Iran could be brought in as a peaceful member of the world community, there would be cause for great celebration. However, if this proves to be a bad deal, it makes the world a more dangerous place.
So here’s my problem this Thanksgiving. I want to be thankful for this agreement but, no matter how hard I try, I do not trust the wisdom of our leaders. I don’t trust their resolve. I don’t trust their honesty. I don’t trust their motives. In the absence of trust, we find ourselves regarding this agreement with a high level of anxiety. We are closer to leaving the world a much more dangerous place for our children and grandchildren. I’m Hink and I’ll see ya.
MIKE HINKLE is a retired attorney and Edmond resident.