John McCain, the Republican Senator from Arizona, famously lost to Barack Obama in the US presidential elections in 2008. I happened to be in the US during the elections and followed the debates as closely as I could.
The Grand Old Party that McCain belongs to had just produced one of the worst Presidents in the American history, George Bush, besides the Iraq war and the financial melt-down that brought the entire world to the brink of a disaster. Like most human beings who were not insane, I detested the American Conservatives, I still do.
But despite my inhibition about the party and the values that the GOP stands for, I couldn't but admire McCain as an individual. He had a simple, practical, down-to-earth approach to the issues and was infinitely graceful in defeat. And his background helped.
Fighter pilot John McCain's plane was shot down in Vietnam. McCain, who survived the crash with severe injuries, was tortured even when he had been injured. He spent a long time in Vietnamese jails, and although he could have bought his freedom early thanks to his connections -- his father was, if I am not mistaken, a navy admiral and consequently a part of the ruling elite of the US. But John McCain refused to tread that path, didn't wish to leave his comrades behind in jail by exploiting the accident of his birth.
So I was not surprised when I read this in the New York Times. It is a touching obituary for an ordinary American, who had been -- trust me -- a communist!
Do we Indians, tormented by an at-times-violent tolerance-intolerance debate, have anything to learn from John McCain?
If you wish to read the article, please click on this link.
[Photo - Courtesy New York Times]
Kolkata / 29 March 2016