We live in a world of unprecedented complexity. Add to this a sense of moral responsibility, and life can be imposing! The conditions we will face in a serious social and economic crisis will create unexpected challenges. It will be easy to stumble and fall
So, let’s think about how we can respond to extreme conditions with courage and fortitude. How can we meet adversity in a way that can actually serve as a springboard for constructive action and community-building?
All of us sometimes feel inadequate. Courage fails us. It can be difficult to find our footing and focus our energy productively, especially when we are confused or surprised. And, it can sometimes feel impossible to be supportive of others, many of whom we seem to have little in common with.
Preparing ourselves will be important as we navigate through one of history’s great turning points. Our ability to function responsibly under difficult circumstances will be challenged again and again.
I believe we have entered a period of upheaval that will be unparalleled in character and global in its dimensions. I will explain in my forthcoming book why we can expect to experience “a confluence of crises” in the coming years, an extraordinary convergence of inevitable and seemingly unrelated crises.
It is imperative that we meet our tests with dignity, and above all not to give in to fear. Democracy is by nature unpredictable, and it will be severely tested in the coming years. Our future will depend on steadfast patience and forbearance if we are to preserve the open discourse and cooperation that liberty requires.
The American Republic is and always was founded on core human values and a positive, constructive attitude. We cannot stand by and watch our future descend into chaos.
Those who are alive today have been chosen by history to bring America through this critical passage in time. Preserving the essential qualities of the American Idea will be our great responsibility as we transit the upheavals of a great storm.
We must keep our balance, keep our hearts and minds focused on our ultimate purpose and not allow ourselves to be dragged down by rancor and bitterness.
We will prevail if the means we employ are harmonious with the ends that we seek.
I offer you symbolic imagery below for our place in history – a metaphor for freedom’s truth. What follows are the final lines of a eulogy I delivered for my father at his memorial service, and a testimony to what I learned from him. Please think about it:
“He gave me one truly great thing above all else…. And, this he did by teaching me the ways of sailing boats. He taught me to fly on the wind. He taught me to sail, to ride high on the blustery gale!
“Without fear we ventured out on the running tide, suspended between liquid and ether, to know the snap of the rigging, the sting of salt spray, and the unyielding rush of a steady keel straining against the wild. Together we embraced the untamed and raced across the sky. He was my Dad.”
Throughout life we are subject to the vagaries of a capricious human world, just as we can be subject to the vicissitudes of the wind and sea. Yet, core principles and steadfast standards remain firmly in place in both worlds if we have the eyes to see.
Understanding the requirements of this truth, we can then spread our wings and learn to fly.
As with a sailing vessel at sea, our identity as human beings can only be realized in action. It is through action alone that we free ourselves to discover the world we are given, learning as the sailor learns – to engage a fluid and often unpredictable reality with wisdom and flexibility.
Failing this, we will beat ourselves against an implacable and merciless resistance. An unwillingness to learn will expose us to the storms of life in a rudderless ship and with our rigging in disarray.
Please look for the next post on or about August 25.
A note to new readers: Blog entries adapted from the forthcoming book are posted on most Fridays here and on the Facebook page. A project description, an introduction to the book (in draft), and several chapter drafts are available on this page. Reader engagement on the FB page is substantial. To receive alerts by email you may click “Follow”.