In my quest to try to understand what happens in the world, it’s often helpful to try to make analogies to things that hit closer to home. It probably leads to some pretty simplistic conclusions, but then I never claimed to be a deep thinker.
Today, I’m reminded of January 1, 1988: the day we learned my 27-year-old sister had died of a cocaine overdose. A guy who had worked with my dad in one of his broadcasting jobs was actually my boss at the time, and when I called to let him know I wouldn’t be coming in to work for a couple days, he put aside his own New Year’s Day plans and immediately came to our home bearing food and words of comfort. He was there for us, providing a human touch in a horrible moment for our family.
I am not qualified to comment on whatever may have changed, politically and socially, in Great Britain since Tony Blair became Prime Minister in 1997. Given his affiliation with the Labour Party, I can guess that we probably don’t have a lot in common. (Although, it’s certainly naive of me to presume that the labour movement in the UK has had the same effect there that the “labor movement” has had here, so who’s to say what common ground we might find.) It does seem to me that attempting to wage peace in Ireland was a noble and probably thankless effort, and that creating regional government in Scotland and Wales was a bold and potentially divisive venture.
What I can say about Tony Blair is simply this: when the U.S. was raw and bleeding from the September 11, 2001 attacks, it was Blair who hopped on a plane and came to stand by our side. And Blair who, in the aftermath of those attacks, agreed that the writing on the wall justified the need for a war against terrorists.
I for one appreciate the stand that Blair took with us, whether or not I share any of his other political or social views. I could lie and say I appreciate it because it was politically brave (which it was), but the fact is I appreciate it because it was a human response. Now let me be clear: I never believed that Blair represented the whole of Great Britain by showing support for us, or even the whole of England. But I always believed he was expressing his personal support, and however strange it may sound, that has always meant a great deal to me.
Why? I’m not sure – maybe because I sometimes think Great Britain sees the U.S. as the “wayward child.” Maybe because I know that much of the rest of the world claims to hate us, and it was nice to have someone from another nation rush to our side and say, “This shouldn’t have happened. You didn’t deserve it.” Maybe because he was just the most visible of the world leaders who expressed their condolences.
I’m not delusional enough to believe that he would care how his gesture of friendship affected one individual. But I’d thank him personally, if I could, and I’m sorry to see Tony Blair step from the world stage.
Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on June 27, 2007, on my now-defunct blog, DMWeblife.