The red-white-and-blue 18-foot home-made plywood runabout was sinking.
First among the clues was the sluggishness of the steering. Wallowing among the slight depressions between the waves rather than cutting a course straight on, his pride-and-joy was becoming less and less responsive.
Then, coming from beneath the floorboards and about the engine’s cover were geysers of spray tossed up and out and between the cracks by the spinning flywheel half-buried as it was below the fast-rising water now mixed with oil, the bilge having long-since lost the battle.
Out in the middle, a long ways from any shore, survival priority – as agreed unanimously – was given to the littlest one. The as-yet-unenjoyed picnic lunch was tossed overboard and the ice-chest-turned-baby-Moses-
It was all for naught.
The boat’s engine coughed, sputtered, and spit but a few more revolutions of spray, and then stopped.
Later the culprit causing the vessel to ever-so-slowly settle lower and lower in the water would be discovered as a fine, almost imperceptible, fracture – a split – near the bow where it had been previously damaged, a worn mooring line having snapped in the abuse suffered from the wakes of passing boats slamming the untethered bow against the dock where it normally sat safely in its protected marina.
But now, what with the weight of all aboard on this particular day, the breach – meant to have been repaired but with time forgotten – was below the waterline. No other boats, at all, anywhere, were in sight. Rescue appeared bleak at best.
The conclusion in a moment.
America too is sinking from cracks in her unattended collective consciousness and is in need of rescue.
Along with the Niagara analogy found in this article’s title, MacLaren writes: “Conscience has a voice but no hands and if it’s voice fails . . . .”
If “reputation is the shadow, and character is the tree,” as Abraham Lincoln is quoted in Suzanne Fields’ October 19, 2016 piece for “The Washington Times” then conscience makes up the roots.
Unseen, the roots of our conscience – that should give rise tree-like to everything else, providing strength, and shade, and support as a branch would a swing – left uncultivated, unnourished, and unattended can likewise give rise to a culture – not to mention presidential candidates – not of our choosing.
“Virtue’s true storehouse is wise self-control,” a Chinese maxim says. “Who can govern himself is fit to govern the world.”
Post-script and conclusion to the story of the red-white-and blue boat: It’s first of all true. The location however was not the Niagara but the south Puget Sound. The boat was built by my dad. The crewmembers were those of our extended family. The baby, after all, never had to be placed in the ‘basket’. Thanks to a speedboat that appeared out of nowhere and disappeared just as quickly after towing them (I was not on that trip) to shore: all were saved; the crack was repaired; and many happy hours were spent thereafter picnicking about in the “Happy Ours” as the patriotically-painted vessel was known.
Conclusion to America’s story: stay tuned.