Gratitude, grief, and -- guilt

Ever since the news of his death reached me, I have been struggling with my thoughts and emotions. Ronald Reagan changed my life for the better, as he did for hundreds of millions. Some were liberated from Communist tyranny, while others of us were freed from confiscatory tax rates. All of us basked in his radiant, optimistic personality.

While I benefited from his tax reductions and the victory, after decades of stand—off, in the Cold War, my biggest debt of gratitude is owed to President Reagan over something far more personal. He freed me from the self—imposed oppression of conformity to the elitist, academic mindset common to the precincts of Cambridge, Massachusetts and Berkeley, California, where I had spent the decades of my adult life.

For me, the epiphany came as the Berlin Wall was torn down from both sides, by Germans longing to be free from Communist oppression. A historical blink of the eye earlier, Ronald Reagan had stood in front of it and demanded, 'Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.' It was the political equivalent of Babe Ruth striding up to home plate and pointing to the outfield fence, to the spot where his next home run would soar over it.

Ronald Reagan had achieved what all my smarty—pants sophisticated and educated friends knew was impossible. Détente was the name of the game. We weren't really that different from the Soviets, after all. They had done bad things, but so had we. They were fundamentally interested in peaceful co—existence, and it was dangerous simpletons like Reagan who threatened the world's future by brandishing nukes like some drunken cowboy twirling his six—guns in the saloons of Dodge City.

Except that Reagan turned—out to know exactly what he was doing. And millions were liberated from tyranny because he hadn't listened to me and my friends. So, exactly who was smart, and who was simple—minded?

The logic was inescapable, if painful.

I never had the opportunity to thank Ronald Reagan personally for his achievements, and for his personal lesson to me. I had never voted for him, and may well have said unpleasant things about him. Certainly, I had stood mute, while others called him a dunce, or spelled his name 'Ray Gun.'

I owed him an apology which was never delivered (unless you count heartfelt emotion), and thanks for all he did for the world.

Now, an entire class of academics, journalists, and other elites faces a coming—to—terms with the legacy of Ronald Wilson Reagan. I applaud those who now speak kind and admiring words of the man upon whom they once heaped scorn. It is an excellent start. I know from my own experience that once you realize that you were wrong, fundamentally and devastatingly wrong about the most important issue of an era, a complex process of change is triggered.

If I were a graffiti—writer, I would leave the tag 'Reagan lives!' He will continue to teach us, even after death. The hundreds of million freed by him will continue to enjoy more freedom than they otherwise would have, had he not stepped up to the plate and pointed toward liberation from tyranny.

Thnak—you, Mr. Reagan. You were a giant.

Ever since the news of his death reached me, I have been struggling with my thoughts and emotions. Ronald Reagan changed my life for the better, as he did for hundreds of millions. Some were liberated from Communist tyranny, while others of us were freed from confiscatory tax rates. All of us basked in his radiant, optimistic personality.

While I benefited from his tax reductions and the victory, after decades of stand—off, in the Cold War, my biggest debt of gratitude is owed to President Reagan over something far more personal. He freed me from the self—imposed oppression of conformity to the elitist, academic mindset common to the precincts of Cambridge, Massachusetts and Berkeley, California, where I had spent the decades of my adult life.

For me, the epiphany came as the Berlin Wall was torn down from both sides, by Germans longing to be free from Communist oppression. A historical blink of the eye earlier, Ronald Reagan had stood in front of it and demanded, 'Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.' It was the political equivalent of Babe Ruth striding up to home plate and pointing to the outfield fence, to the spot where his next home run would soar over it.

Ronald Reagan had achieved what all my smarty—pants sophisticated and educated friends knew was impossible. Détente was the name of the game. We weren't really that different from the Soviets, after all. They had done bad things, but so had we. They were fundamentally interested in peaceful co—existence, and it was dangerous simpletons like Reagan who threatened the world's future by brandishing nukes like some drunken cowboy twirling his six—guns in the saloons of Dodge City.

Except that Reagan turned—out to know exactly what he was doing. And millions were liberated from tyranny because he hadn't listened to me and my friends. So, exactly who was smart, and who was simple—minded?

The logic was inescapable, if painful.

I never had the opportunity to thank Ronald Reagan personally for his achievements, and for his personal lesson to me. I had never voted for him, and may well have said unpleasant things about him. Certainly, I had stood mute, while others called him a dunce, or spelled his name 'Ray Gun.'

I owed him an apology which was never delivered (unless you count heartfelt emotion), and thanks for all he did for the world.

Now, an entire class of academics, journalists, and other elites faces a coming—to—terms with the legacy of Ronald Wilson Reagan. I applaud those who now speak kind and admiring words of the man upon whom they once heaped scorn. It is an excellent start. I know from my own experience that once you realize that you were wrong, fundamentally and devastatingly wrong about the most important issue of an era, a complex process of change is triggered.

If I were a graffiti—writer, I would leave the tag 'Reagan lives!' He will continue to teach us, even after death. The hundreds of million freed by him will continue to enjoy more freedom than they otherwise would have, had he not stepped up to the plate and pointed toward liberation from tyranny.

Thnak—you, Mr. Reagan. You were a giant.