Strength vs. Bluster

Vice President Biden with wife Jill and Tara Gandhi, granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, in India, July 2013. Credit mkgandhi.org

So about 100 years ago (or 2011 to be more precise, given everything pre-COVID seems ancient now) I wrote a piece called, “The strength in sorry” with this quote from Mahatma Gandhi:

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.

Typos and all (trying to forgive myself for those…), that piece was about the strength in asking for forgiveness and how that can open the door to more dialogue than the traditional, defensive, “Let me explain” mode we often get into. The other side of that particular coin, of course, is the actual act of forgiving itself.

In many ways, Joe Biden’s address at the DNC was the epitome of displaying that kind of strength. “I am the Democratic candidate, but I will be an American President.” Well before anyone casts their first vote, Biden is already forgiving anyone who did not agree with him. Indeed Biden has often throughout his career been attacked (inclusive of his Vice Presidential choice, showing another act of powerful forgiveness) for being too willing to reach out and try to understand the other side in an effort to make progress on a particular issue.

Another attack on Biden’s sense of forgiveness is that it will turn him into a punching bag against the bullying rhetoric that Donald Trump and his acolytes have, are, and will be hurling against him. That Biden’s reluctance to demonize his opponents opens him up to exactly the kind of smear campaign that Trump unleashed on Hillary Clinton.

Yesterday, I believe he showed exactly how wrong that was. If you haven’t watched it in its entirety, it’s worth your 20 minutes:

Much like Gandhi’s campaign against the racist, colonial presence in his native land, Biden cannot abide a bully. In India, the ultimate success in removing the British came from forgiveness—the ability for Hindus and Muslims to look past their differences and unite behind a common good. While history showed that sustaining forgiveness in that region has been a difficult proposition, there is no doubt that Gandhi’s ability to bring disparate interests together changed the course of history.

Biden’s blistering attack on Trump yesterday was not, “going low.” Instead it was straight out of the playbook of Gandhi, King, and Lewis. In calling out Trumps myriad lies about his own record and his refusal to call out all sides who have used violence as a tool, the Vice President literally brought truth-to-power. And he put his money where his mouth was; himself condemning any rioting done under the false flag of legitimate protest by using the words of forgiveness and peace from Jacob Blake’s own parents to reinforce both the admonition of violence and the need for reform.

Of course, there will be some who will go straight to the, “Sleepy Joe” rubbish, focusing on a few circular sentences or misspoken words. The recent spread of an obviously falsified video by White House deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino shows they will go to any length to demean and degrade. Lawyer and SuitUPNews host Exavier Pope took Trump apologists to task trying to simply dismiss this fabrication as parody:

Such an obviously disprovable fake of that Harry Belafonte sleeping video swap of Joe Biden, but by the time it spreads to Facebook and other social media many people have ingrained what the images convey and don’t care about a “fact check.” That’s why propaganda is so dangerous

As the father of an Dean’s List college student with a stutter, one who braved his condition to win a middle school public speaking competition, and trips over the “B” in “Biden” each of the thousands of times he’s been making calls as a volunteer for the Biden/Harris campaign, I can hear it every single time Joe circles his sentences to keep from tripping on a word, or misspeaks because he doesn’t have the luxury that most of us do of not having to think about how he is saying things.

And every time I hear it, I hear strength, not weakness. True, humble, and genuine strength; not the bluster of narcissistic hubris.

As my son continues to brave his stutter for BidenHarris, now while in an isolation dorm awaiting the results of a COVID test (he developed a fever a few days ago though it’s gone now and we’re keeping fingers-and-toes crossed that it was just a quick, not-so-novel coronavirus), he continues his mantra that, “This is personal for me.”

I hope it is for you as well, and that you choose true strength over arrogant bluster.

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One Response to “Strength vs. Bluster”

  1. Libby Harris Says:

    This is beautiful writing – impassioned and heartfelt and, of course, true. And now I know the answer to my question to you. You are the best. Aunt

    >

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