Those who would press violence on the shores, the skies, or the buildings of America, engage us to stand together. Out of many opinions on how to protect this country, we become one nation willed to defend it.
It. America. Can we agree on what it is? It is a place to sanction or to condemn those of the same gender to marry. It is a place where Spanish or English is the primary language of communities. There are those whose views would fall on either side of the “or” in those statements. Yet ultimately, it is a place where, without qualifiers, we all wish to pursue happiness, live a fulfilled life, and do so unencumbered by constraints on our liberty.
So we are all Libertarians. We are all Republicans. We are all Democrats. As Jefferson said, “every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.” The “E Pluribus Unum” on our currency does not mean we stand of one religion, of one opinion, or one spoken language. It does mean we all speak the same language of aspiration to be our best selves in a world that challenges our conscience, character, and our capacities to excel. We all speak the language of hope that we leave the world the better for posterity than when we entered it. It is not where we are but on the field of where we want to be that makes us one from the stalks of many. For every immigrant from the pilgrims to the border-crossers of today—America is an idea.
A simple idea. Better. To be better. To live better. To provide better. It all boils down to better.
Today we deserve better than those who under the guise of representation make it their sole aim to limit the term of the incumbent leader.
This country was not founded on the backs of those who would tear down without building, but rather those who sought to build without tearing us apart. To eliminate slavery without tearing us into two separate nations—it brought us to war. What makes this nation great is not our ability to fight ourselves, but our striving to reconstruct more than scorched earth. It was not the death of Lincoln but the seed of a civil rights movement that culminated almost one hundred years later with a man who recognized better. He had a dream as we all do.
So let us not terrorize ourselves by flying invective into the podium at which our President stands. Just as we have built again from Ground Zero, we must build our Government from the ground up. It began with we the people.
In order to form a more perfect union, we need to devise solutions for a more perfect union. We need more than jobs—we need jobs that convey America is a place that strives to be better. Let us embrace the challenges of tomorrow and build solutions rather than swinging a wrecking ball at the leaders of today.
We need a citizenry that pushes our leaders to be better. Only upon common ground can we build. We have a simple, actionable idea on which to set the foundations. Let us erect a tomorrow upon it.
I miss my grandmother, but she’s still here.
Yes, I miss her delicious cookies and baked goods. I miss her hearty chuckle in response to my grandfather’s dry humor and facetious demands.
But what I miss most is her ability to be herself. This, her stroke took away from her. Not her personality, not her faculties, but her agency to express herself.
It took her speech and her right arm and has left her with only a few select gestures and vowels to battle through the wall her own body has become.
She can still read, but she cannot hold a book.
She can swallow food, but she cannot lift a spoon.
And she lives in a nursing home where the staff helps her with neither of these tasks.
They bring her food, but don’t help her sit up in bed. The tray is often out of her reach. And its contents remind me of the kind of food that would twist Oliver’s stomach.
I see the loneliness in her eyes and hear the frustration in her throat as she tumbles over and over again like a car that will not start.
What should I do? With the feeding tube she has we cannot bring her home and if she cannot eat the food there, they will not take it out.
My parents visit her frequently but they cannot be there for every meal and work their jobs. I find myself working in New York, a different state, just barely stabbing at independence as a recent college grad, and still trying the find my way through the numerous challenges of early adult life.
I want to be there for her, just as I want to be there for my parents. Someday they will struggle in later years just as I struggled in early ones.
But at most right now, I visit when I am in town, I tell her how I am doing, and I do my best to bring her to smile.
I am thankful that for all that has been taken away, she has not lost that ability, and that I think, is a start.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, It is the only thing that ever has.