In my younger years, my mother bought a recording of the musical South Pacific. We kids played it so often that we learned most of the songs by heart. This past week, one of the songs, “Cockeyed Optimist,” as sung by Mitzi Gaynor, kept popping into my head. Here are a few lines:
I have heard people rant and rave and bellow
That we’re done and we might as well be dead,
But I’m only a cockeyed optimist
And I can’t get it into my head.
And then these words:
But I’m stuck like a dope
With a thing called hope,
And I can’t get it out of my heart!
That’s exactly how I’ve felt lately—a cockeyed optimist, Horatio Alger, Pollyanna, Anne of Green Gables, and Charlie Brown trying to kick his football all rolled into one.
Certainly the weather has played a part in my upbeat mood. Full-fledged springtime has touched down here in Virginia, with birds warbling away, flowers nodding in the breeze, and temperatures that permit even this old guy to sit on the porch in short sleeves.
But there’s more to the spring in my step than sunshine and daffodils. For over a week now, I’ve daily encountered the happy warriors of Edmund Burke’s “little platoons,” of which he wrote:
To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society is the first principle (the germ as it were) of public affection. It is the first link in the series by which we proceed towards a love to our country and to mankind.
This string of good cheer kicked off when I dined with some friends, a 30-something couple with four young children. This husband and wife embody the virtues of marriage, family, and common sense, and their dining room table is a citadel of laughter and bright conversation.
The very next day, I spoke on the phone to the effervescent Bethany and Ryan Bomberger, creators of The Radiance Foundation, which promotes pro-life ideals, adoption, and treating everyone equally and fairly (as opposed to the left’s critical race theory).
Church on Sunday was, as always, alive with scores of babies and kids, which invariably puts me in a great mood. Two days later, my son dropped by with his 7-year-old, and during our conversation, I once again felt grateful that my children and grandchildren are surrounded by a strong, religious family.
There then followed another phone call, this time with Katy Faust, founder of Them Before Us, an organization dedicated to children’s wellbeing. Like all the others that week, Katy was a witty and sparkling conversationalist. Part of this interview became particularly entertaining as she went back and forth between my questions and giving instructions to her 15-year-old son who was driving her down the interstate at 70 mph.
The good cheer and zest for life shown by these folks stands in stark contrast to the tar bucket of online news that darkens my mornings. Whether we are governed by a confederacy of dunces or by a cabal of the wicked bent on destroying America, our nation is clearly in dire straits. Making that tempest even worse are those gloomy commentators who “rant and rave and bellow, that we’re done and we might as well be dead.”
They’re wrong. There is hope. It resides in the little platoons that we meet, as I did, in our daily lives, that beautiful fellowship that reminds me a bit of those who dared fight against Sauron and the forces of Mordor in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. The powerful armies—the government and its bureaucracies, woke corporations and universities, all abetted by a host of radicals and the misinformed—arrayed against today’s little platoons appear the sure victors in this war. They have the big guns of media and social media, along with politicized agencies from the FBI to district attorneys.
But this army can never win, for it lacks the truly necessary weapons needed for final victory: faith, hope, charity, and truth. These armaments belong exclusively to the little platoons.
More and more Americans are enlisting in these platoons, and signing up is easy. When we oversee the education of our children, for example, guiding them to truth and knowledge, we join the fight. When we give our time and treasure to worthy community groups or to organizations like The Radiance Foundation and Them Before Us, we are marching in the ranks. When we form our own platoons, bringing together friends, family members, and neighbors to protect and defend our liberties, we ally ourselves with the resistance.
And we’re going to win this war.
Image credit: Pixabay-AlemCoksa4 comments