Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Jimmy Carter is the man

No rocking chair for this senior citizen. Love this man. When most ex-presidents reach his age (especially of the defeated, one-term variety), they're not hauling their passion for peace and human rights around the globe to his particular intensity.

For me personally, it's heartening to see a powerful, fellow Christian taking stances on sexism, racism and the death penalty because his relationship with Christ compels him to, even though it won't boost his stock in the evangelical Christian world.

As detailed in the video above, Pres. Carter is not content to pretend the South doesn't have the problems with which it's still plagued — it's an elder's job to chastise the younger generations' errant ways, is it not? He doesn't neglect the duty. He points out what most of us already know but are too timid and in denial to admit. The South is still mired in latent racism. Anyone who a) lives in Texas/the South, and b) doesn't operate in a state of willful blindness knows this.

You know when you're in Wal-Mart, and there's a toddler in the same aisle who's pitching a wild-eyed fit, but all the mom does is silently detach or, to the most, lamely request, "Now, now, Breanna; please try to be quiet for mommy"? That's not Jimmy Carter. But he's not the opposite, either — we've already seen how much change the take-no-prisoners cowboy routine actually affects. It's his sound, gentle, yet unapologetic rebuke of the world's pink elephants that makes him such a national treasure.

The man is 84 years old. 84. Still sharp as a blade, crazily articulate, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, AND he's a deacon and life-long Baptist Sunday school teacher. (Totally irrelevant trivia: He's Elvis Presley's fifth cousin and is related to Motown founder Barry Gordy, Jr. on his mom's side.) And let's talk about this man's IQ. He's one of the top five most intelligent U.S. presidents, just below John Quincy Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton, and just above the smart likes of Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. For perspective, George W. Bush's IQ, based on his highest score, is in the bottom two, just above Grant. Just sayin'.

He's thought to be one of only two U.S. presidents (along with Nixon) who's been faithful to his wife (I think that came from the book White House Confidential; let me know if I'm wrong). He's simply one of the most respectable statesmen this country has.

Yet he continually endures insults of "irrelevant," even though he's made it his life's purpose to do nothing but work on the most relevant issues of our time. Instead of his detractors attempting to reach his intellectual plane and form legit counters to his views, you're likely to hear that "Jimmy Carter's officially senile!" from too many of them. He's constantly chided to quietly fade into the past like a good, elderly ex-president should.

Well, not this grandpa.

I hope to be half as fearless and active when I reach his age.

Viva las old folks who refuse to diminish!!

Jimmy Carter primer:
Jimmy Carter topic page on NYT
Losing my religion for equality: Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God
An ex-president like no other: Jimmy Carter, the passionate feminist
Carter sees racism in Wilson outburst
The Carter Center
His wiki page
An Amazon list of his books

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