Perspective is a word we sometimes hear in our daily lives. I would like for you to take a moment and experience an exercise in perspective view. Find a mirror that you can stand directly in front of. Slowly move closer toward the mirror until your nose is almost touching its refection. Now, looking directly forward, what do you see?
The appearance of your face’s image will be somewhat distorted by the extremely close reflection. Next, take one half a step backwards and once again look at the mirror’s reflection to see how your perspective view has changed from a moment ago.
Progressively take small steps backwards until you can see your entire reflection from head to foot. The change in distance has changed your perspective of yourself. And with each step back more of the world around you will come into view. Sometimes we describe this as seeing the big picture.
History is much like your image that is reflected in the mirror. The closer you are, the more difficult it is to see an undistorted image.
Yesterday our country began a new chapter in America’s history books. The pages are blank and unmarred by future events our country will experience.
There are those who believe they can foretell our country’s future history. We call these people in the political world spin-doctors. They are salesmen of ideas to influence opinions and history. These people are simply guessing as to what will be written on those blank pages. That is the job of a spin doctor and that is what they are paid to do. The real truth is events in our country and the world will dictate the path we will travel and the words written.
Yesterday morning as the world watched the changing of our country’s President, things began to change in every government office across our country. President George W. Bush’s pictures that have hung in government offices for the last eight years were removed and replaced with President Obama’s image.
Tons of government documents and stationary with the names and information of the outgoing administration were destroyed and replaced with new names and information. Phone books with heads of departments and members appointed by President Bush are gone and new ones are now in their place.
The White House, home to the President and his family, underwent a quick change as President Bush left for the last time. The outgoing first family’s personal items and furniture were removed out one door and replaced by the new President’s through another door.
For each of us, we look toward the future and hope the words written by historians describing the next four years will tell of economic growth and prosperity for America, but we realize the future is unpredictable for both historians and Presidents.
But what place in history will President George W. Bush’s chapter occupy? Looking now at his legacy in history is much like looking at your reflection in the mirror when you were only an inch away from the image. We are still too close to judge what history will say about his tenure as President. For a time those who want to influence how history will view his Presidency will put a spin on his eight years in office, but as time passes those image-makers will move to future chapters of our history.
President Bush’s time in office will be remembered by the terrible attack on the World Trade Center’s. The long and costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that our American soldiers have fought and died in. The devastation on the Gulf Coast by Hurricane Katrina and the response by our government.
And finally, possibly the worst financial meltdown in our country since the great depression nearly 80 years ago. All of these events will in the long term shape President Bush’s image in history, but the entire history of these events is still unfinished and their chapters are yet to be written.
The President of the United States is one of the most powerful men in the world today, but he often cannot prevent the events that sometimes shape and define his Presidency. Every President fulfills the word of his oath of office as clearly as possible, but being President does not give you a clear vision of the future events and their outcome. And while he helps to shape history, he cannot control it.
News commentators often try to write history on daily talk shows. Their opinions of the day’s events are often one sided. Their bias views, left or right, will be forgotten as we move away from history’s reflection in the mirror of time. The further we move away the more clear the events of President Bush’s Presidency will become to future generations. History is written today and validated by the passage into tomorrow.
In five years historians will still be debating and writing pages in George W. Bush’s history book. In 20 years the history books will include the chapter on 9-11 and the outcomes of the wars that followed. And in 40 years George W. Bush’s Presidency may be remembered for the biggest financial downturn in our country’s history. Or perhaps he will only be another picture of past Presidents arranged among those before him and those that came after.
It is like your reflection in the mirror, if you are able to back far enough from your reflected image you may lose sight of yourself in the distance. In 50 years the image of President Bush may be as recognizable as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, or John Kennedy. Or perhaps as forgotten as Martin Van Buren, Millard Fillmore, or Warren G. Harding.
Only the reflection of history will define those who will be remembered and those who time will forget as I see it Thru The Lens.