Kristine Kaiser: Obama’s on the right side of history

Mar. 15, 2013 @ 07:18 PM

My reading has influenced me. No one essay has touched my life more than Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Compensation.” Emerson cites a sermon, where the preacher talks about rewards and punishments in the afterlife. He states that it is a falsehood that the saints are miserable on earth, and that the wicked are successful. He argues that just actions have just rewards. We receive exactly what we put into our efforts in time.
The essay has always filled me with optimism. While I have worked hard at writing, monetary compensation has never come easy. When I lived in Louisville, Ky., I wrote book reviews for newspapers in the region. One editor answered my sent proposal by saying. “We do not pay for book reviews. If you want to do it for the glory, be my guest.”
That was the first time I ever considered why I write. Don Marsh, the then editor of the Charleston Gazette, prompted some real soul-searching. Why did I write?  What was in it for me? Did I write solely for glory, for name recognition? I did not. I never have.
Since childhood, I have valued freedom. There are jobs that pay more money, but I’m greatly compensated with a sense of being able to say what I want to say. I was able to protest the Iraq War when it wasn’t popular to be a pacifist. My words were not sponsored; my words were not directed or dictated. My words were truly my own.
I was able to be a Bush critic when his job approval ratings were still soaring. The freedom to think is no small compensation. Intellectual freedom is very important to me. For working hard, I’ve been able to be authentic. My toil has been so rewarded.
I deeply believe in Emerson’s notions about compensation. We are compensated for our measures. No good effort is ever wasted. No breach or lapse goes unnoticed for long.
Emerson’s ideas work for the most ordinary folks and for elected leaders. No one is immune from the moral universe and its solid and simple laws. Emerson’s rules help Obama.
President Obama will eventually be rewarded for his efforts. It strikes me that he is on the right side of history. His concern for the middle class appears to be genuine. While he has many detractors, his critics will be proven wrong in the end. Obama is a very smart man with good intentions; he works for the common benefit. He is for everyone.
Emerson writes about unjustly treated figures: “Every lash inflicted is a tongue of fame, every prison a more illustrious abode, every burned book or house enlightens the world; every suppressed or expunged word reverberates through the earth from side to side.
“Hours of sanity and consideration are always arriving to communities as to individuals, when the truth is seen and the martyrs are justified.”
The sage talks about justice being inescapable.
While I would not say that Obama is a martyr, he’s been unfairly judged. Obama has done nothing to warrant extraordinary abuse. From the nation’s drone program to the fight against gun violence, his rabid naysayers are unrelenting; they do not let up.
Emerson argues that blame cannot hurt a good man, that what is said against him will work in his favor. Unjust criticism only strengthens a man’s legacy. Good people are seldom dishonored. Their fortunes are delayed to another hour. The universe is for them. Compensation is a reality of life; it is more than optimism, far more than hope.

Kristine Kaiser is a writer living in Kernersville. Contact her for comments at: Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.