Americans have an extraordinary history and heritage as a nation—a vision and exemplary model for governance which are unprecedented in the world. As citizens, it is an honor to be responsible for this. We are called to ensure a future that is free, just, and constructive.
We are also challenged by the shadow of a violent and contentious past, and now the looming threat of a multitude of crises. We can easily lose ourselves in self-doubt and endless recrimination—forever relitigating the details of a very human past. But learning from the past is made real by living our best intentions into the future.
Americans cannot afford to compromise a commitment to an honorable future. While it is quite true that responsibility depends upon truthfulness, the future also depends on the maturity, understanding, and generosity of spirit that will enable the United States to secure civil order and a free society.
We are Americans; we can do this together.
As individuals, there is but one way forward—personally and without constraint–and this is within our own local communities. It is for this reason that I have challenged us all to rise above our differences, to engage with one another in the authentic dialogue necessary for problem-solving.
The necessities of shared needs cannot be compromised. Safety and survival will soon require that we think about what we can accomplish by working together.
Doing this effectively will allow communities to address the future constructively.
We find ourselves confronted today by extraordinary circumstances, a multitude of dangerous and deepening crises. And yet, this narrow place in American history presents an unprecedented opportunity.
We must rise to the next level, having no choice but to turn to the future with clear-eyed intentionality.
Herein lies the importance of knowing and understanding our neighbors; listening to one another with genuine interest despite our differences. The failure to engage constructively will threaten the future as threats grow.
The number and diversity of crises confronting us is unparalleled. Most of us know that something has changed. The experience of normalcy has evaporated. Our lives are disrupted and the end is nowhere in sight.
The world is experiencing dramatic structural change. The rapid development of digital technology without accountability, exponential population growth, the loss of farmland and access to clean water, unprecedented weather—all this imposes on our lives even if it is happening elsewhere.
This is inevitable and no one’s fault. That it has generated confusion and divisiveness is hardly surprising. It is natural to look for someone to blame, but this is not useful.
Will we pull ourselves together as Americans did during World War 2, to make America whole?
In the midst of rapidly changing conditions, in a world confronted by hardship and awash with fear, we are forced to discipline ourselves as responsible, trustworthy people.
The foundation for well-being is trust. This is the secret of integrity in inter-personal relationships, in communities and in nations.
Dependable neighbors may soon become our only source of security. We need to know how to make this work, and it begins with ourselves. We might need to be trustworthy even when no one else notices or reciprocates.
It is true that trust lives in relationships. It cannot exist in isolation. And, yes, good-will is helpless if the relations between us remain unchanged. However, trustworthiness is personal and in fact begins with ourselves!
To establish true community, we must turn away from the impersonal collectivism of mass society—to represent our real selves in authentic relationships.
We prove ourselves ready for community by living genuinely with others as dependable, trustworthy co-workers and neighbors.
Each of us is responsible independently. No one can do this for us.
You may watch for the next post on or about June 4.
A note for new readers: A project description and several sample chapters from the forthcoming book are posted in draft at the top of the homepage.