It’s an intentionally provocative headline, especially for my Dad reading up in Heaven… But it hit me tonight…
I am worried about this country – the one I love - but the one I fear is headed in the wrong direction. And I fear that we can’t solve our problems as a country, because we have lost our ability to truly, genuinely, authentically engage in conversation. The conversation has become too polarized to be productive… At least that’s my fear.
Tonight, it hit me. I’m worried about my role. Actually, I’m worried about the fact I’m sitting on my comfortable couch, but not truly playing a part in this conversation.
And, for the record, that is not what my Dad taught me to do. He taught me to engage (before that word was trendy), He taught me that one man can make a difference. He taught me that you should ACTIVELY (read: well beyond voting) take part in the political process. You should volunteer your time. You should give your money. He even bought not one but THREE newspapers so he could write the editorials. He was part of the process. As a result, he had the ear of a Governor, two Senators, and at least one Representative (and I suspect more). He made a difference.
I love my Dad, who died almost three years ago. And we didn’t agree on everything. In fact, my job as an adult was to gain the confidence to create my own opinions, and then later (much later) share that with my Dad. And, to his credit, he accepted the differences and loved me just the same. What a gift.
I’m a parent today. And as a parent of a 19 year old and and 18 year old, I realize that my example speaks much lower than my words.
I worry about our country, but do I do anything substantive about it? I’m almost embarrassed that I was proud I took the time to send emails after that last ‘government shut down’ debacle. Really? I should be proud of that?
Are we just so many generations removed from the struggle that we take all this for granted? Can we look at the struggles around the world and think that democracy is easy? Or, worse, that someone will do it for us?
My Dad’s political activism was all on behalf of the political right. Part of my struggle is that I feel the political party that raised me has deserted me. By today’s definition I’m not a Republican, but can’t yet call myself a Democrat. So I’m a social liberal without an island. But I know that I need to be part of the process. Because my country needs each and every one of us.
So, how do I serve? I’m thinking about that tonight. Wondering how I can be a community organizer. It might not meet my Father’s definition. And certainly won’t support the party he served. But I know this world needs the gifts I was given. So how am I called to serve?
It’s a question each of us should ask every single day. I hope you join me in asking the question. Let’s open our hearts, and our minds, to how we can serve. Above all, let’s find ways to talk through our differences. For, I am convinced, that once we get through the rhetoric and the spin, we have much more in common than we admit. After all, I’ve been in marketing for over 3 decades, so I understand a bit about how to make a point.
But, at the very essence, everything is simply about love. At it’s core, every debate is about how we love and serve others. So let’s unite around that. It makes me wonder about what the conversation would be like, if it started with an acknowledgement that we’re here to figure out the best way to love each other. Why don’t we try it and see? It’s not an original idea. In fact, it’s supported by every major world religion. So maybe we can agree about that for a start.