Would Martin Luther King hate George Bush?

I was urged not to say a kind word about George Bush. I was even asked, how could I, given all the mistakes he has made.

It became even harder when my sister called me and said my 87-year-old mother waited three hours in the rain to vote for Barack Obama.

Well I voted for John McCain. I felt like a heel, but I voted for him anyway. You see, my mother taught me that there is some good in the worst of us, and some bad in the best of us. I felt torn, but I voted my conscience anyway.

President Bush has made some terrible mistakes, too numerous to mention.

But what I do want to talk about are the two things that will stand out in his legacy as having changed the world for good and not for evil.

What most people don’t know: George Bush is a beloved figure in parts of sub-Saharan Africa. The reason? He tripled funding to fight the scourge of AIDS, and in doing so, he has saved the lives of tens of thousands of Africans — even more so than Bill Clinton did.

The other part of his legacy is that he crossed the aisle and worked with Sen. Ted Kennedy and helped pass the No Child Left Behind Act.

Who would have imagined that George Bush, a conservative Republican, for the first time made it possible to determine if American children were getting a decent education and holding people accountable if they weren’t.

The statement that he made about the bigotry of low expectations, as he referred to minority students, continues to echo throughout the country. The Democrats never held teachers, administrators or school boards accountable for the miseducation of our children, because as most people know, they are beholden and captive to the teachers union, which is where they get a lot of money.

I look around on the Internet and the news, and I am appalled at the hatred that people have toward this one man named George Bush. And I begin to wonder, why?

I remember reading Nelson Mandela’s life story, when he was asked why he didn’t hate white people for all the evil that they did to him and the people that he cared about. His response: I not only needed to save my soul; I needed to save my country. That is why I didn’t have the luxury of hatred, but I did have the wisdom to forgive.

When pressed, he quoted a Bible verse, which went something like this: Jesus said to forgive 70 times 7. He also said love is stronger than hate, and eventually, he and the black people he represented would win. History has proven him to be correct.

Because he believed in forgiveness, he not only saved his life. He saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people: Men, women, children, blacks, whites and Indians. And for that, he will go down as one of the greatest figures of this century.

In my own life, I have asked for forgiveness, and other times, I’ve even begged for forgiveness. I did that because my religion demanded it. I once was asked, could I forgive a child molester? And I said no. All that meant was that I had more work to do on my own.

You see, Christianity is not a religion for the faint of heart or for wimps. It demands so much of us, like praying for those who hate you, forgiving family members who have wronged you, etc.

There are times I must confess that I would have loved to have seen the people who hurt me get their comeuppance. And when it didn’t happen, I wanted to ask God why. But what I really wanted was not an answer, but an argument.

I wonder about all those people who hate George Bush — do they teach their kids to hate? Or do they teach their kids to forgive?

I have tried haltingly to teach my child that whatever the question, love will always be the answer. Sometimes I have failed miserably. But I remember, as I told my daughter, we are only seeking progress. We are not seeking perfection.

I hope the God whom I have dedicated my life to, and have taught my daughter to do the same, will not be as judgmental as those on the Left or the Right.

My salvation will not come from Barack Obama, but I wish him well and will pray for him. My salvation will come from the one they call the alpha and the omega.

I wonder if Martin Luther King would forgive George Bush. Unfortunately, we will never know. But I suspect, since he is first and foremost a minister of the gospel, that the answer would be yes.

No excuses.

Federal Way resident Walter Backstrom: wkbackstrom@aim.com

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