By September 21, 2016 Uncategorized 15 Comments

Like many of you, I am deeply troubled by the events of the past few days and months. My mind is stressed by the senseless deaths, the anger and divisiveness, the finger-pointing, the political rhetoric and gamesmanship, and the uncertainty.

We have terrorists in our midst – in our cities and communities – spreading fear with knives, guns, improvised bombs, and ominous forebodings of more to come.

The Middle East is in chaos and scores of innocent men, women, and children are being slaughtered seemingly every day.

The United States has now been at war for the longest time in our nation’s history.

The highly emotional and perplexing issue of police shootings of black males has landed on the streets of Tulsa, again.

Charlotte, North Carolina and many other American cities are ticking time bombs, just waiting for a spark to light the fury.

At a time like this, it’s difficult for any of us to find words to say, let alone the right ones.

I recognize that as I write these words there will be some of you who disagree with me, maybe strongly.

You may feel things are just fine.

I wish I could, too. But, I’m worried.

I’m worried about the direction of our nation. And I worry that it is getting too late for any of us to change it.

As an education blogger, it would be easy to simply say nothing. Politics and social sciences are not my expertise. No one is expecting anything. Most may not even care what I have to say. I understand that.

Yet, saying nothing does nothing which leads to nothing.

So, I have nothing to say… but this.

What is happening in our country? TO our country?

I have always had immense pride in being an American. I was honored to serve as a Marine Corps Officer and have endeavored to live my life in a manner respectful of our national values and our sense of character and justice.

As such, I still believe America is the greatest nation on Earth.

At the same time, America is hurting.

Ignorance and intolerance and misguided fear have numbed our minds.

Too many Americans are lashing out, becoming the thing we fear, if not hate. We yell too much and listen too little. We judge too quickly and actively resist viewing the world through another’s eyes.

Gun sales are through the roof.  Political rhetoric has crossed into vitriol and hate mongering.  In our anxiety, we blame those we don’t understand because it’s easier. Our national candidates and their supporters are lashing out at one another as if they were enemies at war.

What has happened to courage and leadership and compassion?

Let me ask this question.

What makes each of us “Americans?”

How do you choose to define yourself? What labels matter the most?

Is it our race and ethnicity that are most important? Or is it our faith? Is Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Pagan, Agnostic, or Atheist, first?  What about our gender or who we choose to love? How about our occupations? Are we Democrats or Republicans first? Liberal or Conservative first?  Wealthy or poor?

What is the common thread that holds the fabric of America together? Is there one?

Sadly, it seems like our nation is beginning to fracture along multiple fissures, each defined by labels and harsh judgments. All defined by “if you’re not with me than you’re against me.”

I’m not sure what to do with that. I don’t know how we continue as a nation if we are seeing one another as enemies.

What will our children and grandchildren inherit if we can’t find our common humanity? If we don’t learn how to treat one another with basic respect and dignity?

What are we teaching our children?

A little over two months ago, my friend and fellow blogger, Claudia Swisher, published a heartfelt and personal post entitled, “Potential Lost,” centered on her memories of the turbulent 1960’s.  In her post, she shared a video of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy giving a speech in Indianapolis on the evening of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination. I’d never seen it before that time.

Having now watched it numerous times in the last two months, I can tell you I have a newfound admiration for the man.  Kennedy’s calm, measured, and poignant message was just what the people needed to hear that evening.

America needs to hear it again.

I am just a regular, middle-aged white guy. I’m blessed with a great family, good health, and adequate financial means. As an educator, I am privileged to work with fellow professionals, parents, and community members to collectively create a better world for our children and grandchildren.

Here is something that is certain. In a few decades, my generation will pass from this earth.

The last fifty years been a period of time unlike any other. It has been a time of spectacular achievement and unparalleled discoveries. Technology continues to change our world in ways that simultaneously make our lives easier and more confusing. Our society is more open and yet more closed. Too many hearts are hardened.

I want America to remain great. I want to live in a nation where, as Americans, we are first and foremost a caring and kind people, people who have the courage to imagine another person’s life and perspective with empathy and understanding.

I really don’t care who you support for political office.  I just want caring and kindness to matter.

I really don’t care if you profess a particular faith or none at all. I just want caring and kindness to matter.

I really don’t care how you choose to spend your life, or with whom. I just want caring and kindness to matter.

I’d like to think that our future generations will inherit a country that values those basic teachings. Not because they are found in the Bible or any other religious writings, but because they are at the heart of humanity, because it is the right way for us to be.

It is the way Robert F. Kennedy imagined us while speaking to a group of Americans who were hurting nearly fifty years ago.

“What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black… We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We’ve had difficult times in the past, but we — and we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it’s not the end of disorder.”

Caring and kindness mattered back then. They matter even more now. If America is to remain the greatest nation on Earth, they must continue to matter into the future.

That’s where we need to start.

And I have nothing else to say.

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