Today, as I began my morning walk, a beautiful antique car drove past me. It was one of those automobiles that’s impossible to miss. It was immaculate and shiny. I’m no aficionado of classic cars, but to me, it had a comfortable, familiar look. Except for the color (cherry red), it was the kind of car I would have seen drive down the street when I was a kid. I guessed it was from about 1950.
Later, looking on my computer, I decided that the car I saw was indeed a 1950 Chrysler Imperial, or something very similar. I got to thinking about how wonderful it was that someone valued that car enough to fully restore it. Because some old, beat up cars are collectable, they’re worth the investment it takes for them to be restored. But first, it takes someone to see the car’s value and care enough to restore it.
For a moment I allowed myself to wish that old, worn out folks could be restored, too. Wouldn’t it be great to charge up a hill, without any shakes or shimmies, with the same get up and go we took for granted when we were young and the world was new? Ah, wishful thinking … Actually, we believers have something far better than restoration to look forward to. We have the resurrection. And that’s forever.
It’s not the same for automobiles, or anything else we make, for that matter. We experience a palpable thrill and pride when we first own a fine car. But time wears it down. The paint chips, the body gets dings, parts break, upholstery rips, lines leak. The entire life of the car is fraught with maintenance and repairs. Then one day you decide it’s not worth it any more. What do you do? Rebuild the engine? Repair the transmission? Have the body work done, or whatever? Or is it time to trade in that old bucket of bolts for a newer model with a zippy feel and a real future on the road?
We all see this problem differently and handle it in our own way. Some people lease their car in order to avoid the burden of maintenance. Others buy new cars on a regular basis for the same reason. Still others keep repairing their old car as long as they can keep it running. And there are a few who will take what is left of a grand old collectible, and restore it into a thing of beauty.
Similarly, we see other problems differently… you know, stuff like politics, economics, war, nationalism, internationalism, science, religion, personal freedom or government control. And politicians certainly have different ways of both defining and offering solutions to those problems. Trying to find agreement as to what the problem is, is as difficult as agreeing what to do about it. “The system’s broken” is an over-used cliché that has become the mantra of every slickster who has a new agenda to sell.
If the system is broken, then how do we fix it? Grampa used to say, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat,” which means every problem has multiple solutions. No matter how you define a problem, no matter what you do to solve it, it will always result in change. How meaningful was a political campaign that promised “change”? “Change” can mean anything. And although people think they’re getting a shiny new car, so far we’ve had to pay for a sloppy paint job and some extravagant repairs to keep the old car on the road. We’ve got the new car debt without the new car thrill.
Imagine that thrill our founding fathers must have felt when they first decided to declare independence from the King of England. Imagine the excitement of beginning a brand new nation. Imagine the anticipation they must have felt after adopting a constitution with a design for freedom and then starting on the road to destiny. But our nation no longer is new. It’s old and worn and taken for granted. We’ve put a lot of our resources into repairing it and maintaining it… so much so that many of us just want something new. We want that thrill the original owners knew, but all we have are mounting bills to keep our wheels turning. The thrill is gone.
The election is almost upon us. We’ve been anticipating it and agonizing over it for far too long. The time has now come to make our decision. Do we go broke making endless repairs? Do we trade in for something new, obligating ourselves to new debt? Or do we love our country enough to see the true value of the American Dream and care enough to fully restore our nation, so that once again we may thrill to the greatness it was when it was new? Is it worth restoring? How will you vote?