As the Arizona Legislature moves towards Sine Die, we at HighGround wish to express our gratitude towards all of the Legislators for their hard work and dedication on the eve of our Country’s Memorial Day Weekend.
We are grateful for your service.
“From whence shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall some trans-Atlantic military giant step the earth and crush us at a blow? Never. All the armies of Europe and Asia…could not by force take a drink from the Ohio River or make a track on the Blue Ridge in the trial of a thousand years. No, if destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men, we will live forever or die by suicide.”
-Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
Everyone in public life would do well to consider Lincoln’s quote from 180 years ago. As a man who almost experienced the nation’s first suicide – his words should be a warning to us all. Nativist rhetoric, identity politics, character assassinations, unsubstantiated allegations, social media, and the 24-hour news cycle have created a toxic brew poisoning the American electorate. It would seem, if you bury your head in the sewer pipe of discourse which accounts for American political debate today, that contentment, gratitude, and gratefulness have evaporated in the dialogue of accusation, finger-pointing, and the blame game.
Gratitude is indeed the parent of every virtue; the sentiment fertilizes our souls to cultivate the grace necessary for growth.
In a recent blog post, I wrote that I was exhausted by our political culture. Well, a week on the river in God’s cathedral, our Grand Canyon, has given me renewed hope.
Yes, our country has many challenging problems, but the record reflects that the past 242 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence has been quite good for those of us who were born in the USA. Today, more people live above the poverty line, have access to clean water and health care than at any time in our nation’s history. Whether you are a Trump or an Obama supporter, reality is, the country has been doing quite well.
In the 250 years since our founding fathers choose to combine democracy and capitalism, America has changed the world like no other country in history.
In 1776, the Declaration of Independence committed this country to the highest standard of human behavior and conduct; “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” We committed ourselves to these ideals in order that WE could establish “a more perfect union.” Americans were bound together by these guiding ideals, which we have consistently failed to meet since our nation’s founding.
That does not mean that we haven’t tried. Truth be told, we have made more progress than any country in the history of the planet. That is something to be both proud of and humbled by.
The “truths” enumerated in our founding document are not self-evident. Americans always seemed to rise to that challenge – the Civil war, the right to vote, the Civil Rights act of 1965 are all cornerstones put in place to reinforce the ideal. But as Dr. King said, “I have a dream,” and we Americans need to continue to pursue that dream with a sense of deep gratitude and respect for all those that have come before us.
Our nation’s glass is more than half full.
So, how does all of this relate to our discourse today? Before you tap your keyboard, put pen to paper, or raise your voice, let’s all take a deep breath and remember all the sacrifices of the many who got us to this point in our Nation’s history. This Memorial Day, find a few things to express your gratitude and then remember Lincoln’s words, “As a nation of free men we will live forever, or die by suicide.”
Let us live in gratitude and cultivate grace. It really is up to all of us.