We have choices to make. They might differ from the choices we are used to thinking about, but we are not living in normal times. The challenges confronting us call for courage and clear thinking. Social and economic instability raises concerns for safety. And, our local communities are where this matters most.
Shall we build trust and dependability in our relationships with neighbors—or just pretend that every day will be like the last?
When the world is breaking down and hardship grows, we can always find common cause with neighbors. But we can’t wait until we are already in trouble.
We need people in our lives who have the practical knowledge and skills to help resolve local problems—whatever their politics or religion or the color of their skin.
Interpersonal relationships take time and commitment. They can only happen when we make them happen, and the first step is always ours to take. The road to security begins with civility and is paved with trustworthiness.
Yes, we have differences. Conflict is natural in relationships, yet differences can only be understood and negotiated in the immediacy and authenticity of working relationships.
Making this fractious process succeed in today’s America will depend on whether we think it’s worth the effort. Creating community can be hard work, but it is the only defense against calamity.
Some may say it’s too hard or too late.
I say that Americans are courageous, resourceful, resilient. The United States was conceived in controversy, and the vision of the Founders came with recognition that wisdom and strength are found in diversity.
The Founders gave us a structure. It is our responsibility to make it work.
We are confronted today by one of the great tests in American history, a challenge to an idealistic vision that has been slowly maturing for two hundred years.
Perhaps we have lost our way at times, stumbled, gotten sloppy. But now it is time to pull together. It is argued here that we must begin in our local communities—the historic home to democracy and the seat of civilization.
Stability cannot be imposed from above in a free society. The kind of strength we seek depends on courage, trust and dependability. It can only be made real in active working relationships.
This is the meaning of genuine functional community.
We are confronted now with an unprecedented turning point, a unique window of opportunity to affirm and uphold our exceptional identity as a nation.
In navigating through an extraordinary confluence of crises we will be forced to renew our values, think on our feet, and make both pragmatic and ethical adjustments. A creative process is underway that would not be possible otherwise.
We are a spirited and contentious people. We have gradually, often painfully, built a vibrant and increasingly cohesive society. And the work isn’t finished.
How has America produced such exceptional results? Why is the world fascinated by us? And why do we doubt ourselves?
To understand these questions is important. The answers can be missed, but they are not hidden.
The concept of unity in diversity did not exist prior to the founding of the United States. In our European past, political and religious divisiveness had been disastrous.
The American Founders set humankind on a new course with a constitutional structure that supported diversity and facilitated collaborative problem-solving.
If we love liberty and are committed to defending the freedom of opinion and belief, we will recognize that differences belong in a free society. Diversity has been an essential factor in American strength.
Many of history’s greatest political and military disasters have been the consequences of “group-think” among like-minded people.
Diversity of experience, perspective, and practical skills is the foundation for strength in any society.
The United States Constitution is a pioneering assertion of this principle. History has confirmed its’ validity, however rocky the road.
You may watch for the next post on or about May 10.
Note to readers: This essay is continued in Chapter 3 of the coming book, which can be found at the top of the homepage. Look for the link to “Finding Our Strength”. You might find these ideas unexpected and interesting.