Our country suffered catastrophic injuries during the last week with George Floyd’s murder followed by the appalling lack of empathy among our leaders and the action of extremists to stoke the flames of racism. The past week placed the United States America in the ICU. It could follow 107,000 American COVID-19 victims to the grave if we do not make the turn toward justice and dignity that peaceful protesters around the country rightfully demand.
It is time, as Earth Day Network said today, for citizens to “Stand Up. Speak Up. Show Up.”
Now is the time to reinvent and revive the United States based on equity, justice, dignity, and respect. It is time for Dr. King’s wisdom, Lincoln’s forgiveness, and for every Black Life to matter. Listen and learn from the voices of wisdom in every culture, from all corners of the planet, because the answers we have are not sufficient. Be the melting pot we celebrate despite the Know-Nothings now at the helm of state.
America works because it produces more unexpected combinations of ideas and people than other nations. It is time to recognize that our small and large differences are what make this country possible. We must restore the essential tolerance which allowed 13 colonies to come together, liberate themselves, and begin the journey to greater justice than existed under tyranny. We must liberate everyone from fear and refuse hatred wherever it tries to tear us apart. We must recognize that we are imperfect and strive always to do better.
It is time for America to recognize the generosity it provided to the world was immensely worthwhile. We rebuilt our former enemies and delivered global improvements in healthcare and transparency, to name just two of the benefits of our generosity. That was winning, it was expensive but worthwhile. Global engagement was a good investment that built and supported our leadership worldwide, as well as our vibrant cultures and economy at home. Tyrants are working to destroy our faith in generosity, and we must not let them succeed. Now we must restore our relationships with the world as we heal the grave injustice of our legal system. The cost of the post-WWII era was worth it, and the trust we enjoyed was squandered by greed.
It is time for business leaders to partner with the people to build a new and vibrant economy that is sustainable while providing opportunities at the grassroots. We must see through complaints that America asks too much of the wealthy to address the question of how to create prosperity. If someone says they want to benefit from the laws and public investment in education, research, and infrastructure the people fund through their taxes, they should help more to foot the bill for the incredible prosperity they enjoy. The alternative is the growing destruction first of our cities, then of one another. There will be no wealth left if we choose the path of indifference and greed.
Our revival can start in the streets, neighborhoods, and rural communities that have cried out for equitable compensation, dignity in work, and respect for all, including the planet’s limited capacity to digest our filth. We must work together to make our nation one of law for the benefit and protection of all.
The people are calling for unity even as our leaders urge us into warring camps. Defy the hateful with creativity and compassion. Now we must use the tools of intelligence and tolerance to make a better future, one in which we can all take shared pride. Here are a few principles we will embrace to achieve change, choose what you like, and leave the rest.
- Vote, please vote. It does make a difference and the alternative is to let others decide for us. Vote for whomever you want, but own the consequences of your decision instead of attacking fellow citizens who disagree.
- Seek to expand networks and include people of all backgrounds in solutions to our shared and individual challenges.
- Protest injustice wherever it appears.
- Act with compassion, empathy, and generosity.
- Point out corruption and hold people accountable for their abuse of the public trust.
- Care for the planet, it is one thing we can all pull together to preserve.
- Stop looking only backward for redemption and go forward together to a better future.
- Be the Americans our grandchildren will call the Greatest Generation.