After the booing of former President Bush during the recent inauguration, I found President Obama's thank you to Bush a nice and civil comment. And while he mentioned no policy by name or anyone in the Bush administration by name, Obama then proceeded to bash Bush in a very civil tone. I'm still not totally sure how I feel about that. I know the two blatantly disagreed with each other, but was the speech a backhanded slap at the outgoing administration, or simply an announcement of what's too come?
It reminded me of stories from 200 years ago. The Union Army occupied Baton Rouge and other parts of Louisiana, and the women of the city were most unhappy with the situation. They would hold their noses every time a Union soldier walked by, or make snide remarks. Fed up, the officer in charge decreed that any woman showing disrespect toward a soldier would be treated as a prostitute. After a number of upperclass women were arrested and thrown in jail with a group of prostitutes; the actions ceased. Kind of. The women stopped holding their noses or making snide remarks, but instead would move to another sidewalk if a Union soldier walked by. And they took to doing their own housework during hours of army drills. More than one soldier found himself wearing the contents of a chamber pot that were emptied out the window. I don't know if or how that situation was resolved, whether the soldiers quit drilling in the streets or if the ladies finally started being nice, but it reminds me of the current political situation.
I like to think had I lived during that era, that I would have been a woman of grace and humility, wise as a serpent but harmless as a dove. Given that I laughed the first time I found the above story, I fear I may have been just as heedless and disrespectful as the women of the past. And what about now? When I encounter people who are blatantly disrespectful of Bush, or who lavish praise on Obama and his Civil Right plans for the GLTB community, or his extreme stances on abortion rights, will I be able to calmly disagree and respectfully state my opinion? Or will I follow suit and return trash talk? While we don't have chamber pots today, I do think my Grandma's term of "potty mouth" aptly describes many things we've heard lately. And as I think on Scripture's command to be ready to give an answer for the hope that is within us, I hope I'm not only ready with the answer, but with the proper attitude as well.