Let them come to Clio

Posted: Dec 27, 2001 12:00 AM
"Let them come to Berlin." Those were the words President John F. Kennedy offered 4 years ago, at a time when the focus of the Cold War was on the then-divided German city. Kennedy declared, ''There are many people in the world who really don't understand, or say they don't, what is the great issue between the Free World and the communist world. Let them come to Berlin. There are some who say that communism is the wave of the future. Let them come to Berlin.'' President Bush and others this past week have emphasized that the war on terrorism will be a long one, with periods of hot military action amid stretches of relative quiet. That sounds like Cold War II, and we can learn from what leaders did during the times of peace within Cold War I: They tried to present information that opposed our adversaries' propaganda images of freedom within the communist block and decadence within the West. The anti-American propaganda emanating from radical Muslims is mostly a lie. The liberation of Afghanistan has shown the falsehood of stories about the joy of Muslims living under Taliban and Taliban-type rule. But many Arab newspaper articles translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute depict America as a land of moral anarchy, ruled by selfishness and fueled by the love of money and perversity. What those journalists and leaders don't understand is that there are two Americas. The America of moral anarchy does exist. But alongside it exists an America of incredible compassion, an America with people willing to sacrifice so as to provide for widows, orphans, the aged and the disabled. I had the opportunity this fall, during the two months after Sept. 11, to visit adoption agencies, inner-city tutoring centers and other Christian groups in six states. Those in Arab and Central Asian countries who identify all Americans with the bad parts of Hollywood should visit these sites, where the Christmas spirit is evident all year round. They aren't always where you might most expect them. Here's an example: Because of Jim and Lois Montague, we can tell those who despise America, "Let them come to Clio, Michigan." Clio is a town just north of Flint, and the home of the Montagues and their 29-year-old son, Jerod, who was born with cerebral palsy. Jerod is cheerful at dinner, but he cannot walk, talk or go to the bathroom by himself. The Montagues, in their 50s, have cared for him all their lives and are in good health, but they worry about what would happen to Jerod if they were no longer around. Jim Montague has done well in the manufacture of precision machine parts that go into everything from locks and latches to washing machines. The Montagues are using that business success, along with contributions of material and labor from Clio neighbors, to pay for a $2 million home next to their own house that will have room for Jerod, along with eight others who have cerebral palsy, plus live-in houseparents and nursing help. This, then, is a tale of compassion, but it is also one of freedom. As different as the Taliban and U.S. liberals are, they have in common a desire for centralized power. But no one told the Montagues to build a home not only for their son but for the children of others. They decided to do it on their own, based on what they had learned from reading the Bible and their own hard experience. And they are able to do it because they could retain much of the profit from the Montague Tool & Manufacturing Co. They did not have to send most of it to Washington to be dispensed by the supposed experts. So is "profit" a bad word? Montague profit makes it likely that the home will open in 2002 and be debt-free. Is America a bad word? Not when millions of Americans continue to show the right stuff. Are the words "cerebral palsy" sad ones? Yes, but God can wipe away every tear. And for those who doubt that -- let them come to Clio.