Opinion

Uncommon grace

Photo of Gail Dawson McNally
Gail Dawson McNally
Contributor

Attention in the media these days for the debut of Laura Bush’s book, From the Heart spotlights the negative incident in the early years of the former first lady’s life. She relates revealing details of a teenage auto accident in which the car she was driving hit a car driving by a classmate, killing him. Does Laura Bush’s experience and revelation hit a nerve in many of us, or are we too mired in the negative to recognize our own failings in her terrible misfortune?

Most people admire the image of the former first lady regardless of political affiliation. Always the epitome of how most Americans believed a first lady should look, dress and act, she was never seen out of that image. She exhibits classiness combined with kindness wrapped up in a quiet impeccable style. Add to that her unstinting loyalty to family and her generosity of spirit and service and you have one of the main ingredients of embodiment of the spirit and ethos of America.

Now has Laura made a classic misstep in writing us her memoir? Does she now feel the media’s insatiable appetite for criticism and smear. A good number will look forward to personal enjoyable stories but others will tear apart any tidbit for unconstructive cruel ridicule. We’ve all seen it numerous times and no one is exempt whether politician, warrior, actor, royalty, or common man.

Vicious attacks have already begun on television and in the press. Daily, we see journalism that could charitably be described as “in poor taste.” Vilifying so many of the good, the gentle and decent sadly reinforces a view of a less than empathetic America and diminishes the inherent greatness of our nation.

Surely Laura is prepared for this. She has offered up a soft spot yes, but the iron of her character will show in her usual courteousness. As even that personal control will invite even more contemptible criticism, perhaps opportunity will win out once the churlish and childish giggles are over. Who, after all cannot empathize with Laura Bush’s call to God for deliverance of the young man who lost his life? We can all mentally place our daughters or sisters in Laura’s circumstances. Were the book penned by a Timothy McVey, mustering up sympathy would be difficult but for Laura Bush, the good decent American will pour out compassion for this lady who endured such trauma at such a young age.

In his book, “What’s So Amazing About Grace, Philip Yancey floods us with stories of what he calls ‘ungrace’, that most unfortunate state of mind in which an argument cannot be resolved nor a slight forgotten nor a hurt repaired.  At some time during our lives most of us have undergone an episode of ‘ungrace’. The pain may fade as we mature but too many carry a grudge or guilt to our death (or at least our death bed when we hear of regrets and apologies and a begging to God for forgiveness as we face the unknown).