Regardless of differences in political opinion, I think we can all agree that President George H.W. Bush shaving his head in solidarity with a two-year-old leukemia patient is very touching and sweet.
It was funny when Stephen Colbert shaved his head in solidarity with U.S. troops engaged in the War on Terror. It was poignant when Kellie Pickler shaved her head in solidarity with her ill best friend. But this was different, this choice by President Bush; not only was it touching and sweet, in so many ways it was also sad. This was not the effort of a man in the prime of his health (like Colbert) or a girl in the prime of life (like Pickler) to show support to a sick friend.
And so when we see these two people together, an elderly President Bush and a little frowning Patrick clutching what appears to be a toy car, we see two people who are entirely justified in harboring bitterness and anger. (Of course, Patrick is probably too young to experience very developed feelings of this kind, but if he was older, it would certainly be understandable for him to feel angry that life had dealt him this fate). Maybe President Bush is terrified and bitter in the face of growing old, but that is not what his expression shows. In this picture, he looks unable to contain an unbridled happiness. And that is beautiful.
I don’t know the answer to the proverbial problem of evil. I don’t ever find it easy to negotiate between my religious beliefs and the hurting and suffering world around me. I don’t know why this tiny, innocent child is sick when so many others who seem so much more deserving of death are not. What I do know, however, is that even in the midst of this heart-wrenching sadness, moments of beauty and joy are still possible. Thank you, President Bush, for reminding us of this.
Previously from Laura Creel:
♦ A Summer of Surveillance and Banquet of Consequences
♦ Worse Than the Worst: Flesh-Eating Maggots
♦ On Never Getting to be Tina Fey, and Why That’s Alright
♦ Shared Narrative: An Interview with Melanie Penn and Kelly Jones
♦ Not Cool, CUNY and David Petraeus