Without neighbors we can depend on, how will we find safety for our families and the strength to build the future? Tell me, please, in what place other than our local communities do we have the opportunity amid deepening turbulence to forge dependable relationships, heal wounds, and influence our destiny?
I have never said it will be easy. Responsibility never is. We face an extraordinary turning point, an oncoming sequence of crises that will challenge each of us to rise to a new level.
Do we imagine that a shining superhero will rescue us from chaos? Or will we, as I asked in the last post, pick ourselves up, reach out to our neighbors, and do what needs to be done?
This is an uncompromising question. Not to answer it, or to defer commitment, is in fact to answer it. Failure to rise to necessity is to accept defeat.
Whatever ones’ personality, political philosophy or religious belief, we have an unavoidable choice to make. Either we retreat into ourselves, accepting what is given as beyond our control, or we step forward to engage hardship and purpose with constructive intent.
This is a very personal choice, but at a time of existential crisis for America it takes on great significance – for ourselves, for the nation and for the world.
The United States has served as a model for governance and an engine of creative vitality that is unparalleled in human history. The American idea has been a beacon of hope for people everywhere. There has never been anything else like it.
And, the world is watching.
To hesitate would be to act as victims rather than as Americans. It would be to choose loss over promise, helplessness over responsibility.
We may be temporarily intimidated by difficult circumstances. But we must never give in, and never lose sight of the dawn of a new day that even now lights the horizon.
Living with purpose gives us courage and inspiration. Without the courage to begin anew, we will join the slide into turmoil.
Strengthening our communities will not isolate us from uncertainty. It will provide only limited protection as an island of safety. What it can do, however, and will do if we are determined, is to open the door to genuine possibilities — dependable neighbors, mutual assistance, food security, and economic renewal on a human scale.
It positions us to best keep our balance, mentally and spiritually. And, it keeps the potential for an American future alive.
Working with people is probably the most challenging part of life. Choosing to work together will require perseverance and forbearance – a readiness to exercise tolerance, patience, self-control. Communicating effectively will become a necessity.
There will always be difficult people to test us.
Our job is not to be heroes or caretakers or managers, although these roles may call on us at times. Our job is to win over hearts and minds to the cause of reason, safety, mutual respect.
Only then will it be possible for fear to give way to sincere listening, anxiety to understanding.
No one is asking that we change our views. Our lessons, (and those we need to teach), are those of democracy: Patience, problem-solving, teamwork and collaboration.
Progress will come one step at a time and will often seem painfully slow.
Making a commitment to stay positive requires considerable resolve. But, focusing on productive purpose and building dependable relationships can make a very big difference.
The negativity that imposes itself on us may appear powerful, but it can only exist in the absence of constructive action, and only has the energy we allow it.
When we set out on a practical path and offer encouragement to others with a friendly spirit, we become as a light that pushes back the darkness.
If we meet with overwhelming negativity, it may be wise to take our energy elsewhere. But, we must never allow our vision to dim or our compassion to be compromised.
Darkness can always be countered with light. Darkness is the absence of light and has no substance of its own.
The light of a small candle defies even the darkest night.
Please look for the next post on or about February 9: Finding courage in crisis.
A note to new readers: Blog entries adapted from the forthcoming book are posted on alternating Fridays on both this, the main blog site and a Facebook page. To receive alerts by email you may click “Follow” on the right side of your screen.