Sunday, June 5, 2016

Make America [truly] Great Again--and words DO matter

As one for whom words matter, the phrase Make America Great Again (that seems to be almost omnipresent in today's political discourse), got me thinking during my ride today.

I am not opposed to making America "great" again, but what do we mean by "great"? By great do people mean Rich? Strong? Intimidating? Better somehow than other nations? If this is what is meant by making America great, then I want none of it.

But what if instead of great riches we pursued great opportunities? Instead of great strength we exercised great compassion? Instead of great intimidation we were known for generous, welcoming civility? If you listen much to the political pundits and candidates, the United States is no longer the land of the free and the home of the brave--but instead is the land of the bigoted and the home of the fearful. As for me, I want no part of Mr. Trump's "great" America.

Instead, I want an America that reflects the greatness of David Dawson, Dr. Sedlack, Dr. Cornell, and countless others who have chosen to devote their lives to teaching the next generation(s) of students that words matter and that learning is valuable. I want an America that looks like Kathy Johnson who has invested her time and money in taking music and hope to the Cuban people. I want an America that demonstrates devoted kindness to those in great need like Karen, Emme, and Maea Wistrom who put a face and words and hands to the work of Children's Hope Chest (and Jay who holds down the fort to make those trips possible). I want an America that makes choices like the Bubalos and Porwalls who had the talents and drive to pursue any career path, but have chosen lives of frugality and sacrifice so that others may hear words of hope and opportunity. I want an America that looks like Wallace King who chose, throughout his career and in retirement, to give of his time and energy for the civic good--not merely for his own advancement. I want an America that is respected and appreciated for who we are in our core character, and not mocked for the ridiculous rhetoric of our prospective "leaders".

Reader, you have your own list of people that you believe reflect the America that you desire. How about if we all do two things: 1) set the tone by developing and demonstrating this type of character for ourselves; and 2) insist that those who would represent us demonstrate these characteristics.

Remember, "the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men and women to do nothing."