Thursday, January 13, 2011

Can I Hear An Amen?

Less of the "it's all about me" brand of politics and more of this, please:
But what we can't do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another. As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together....

We recognize our own mortality, and are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame – but rather, how well we have loved, and what small part we have played in bettering the lives of others.

That process of reflection, of making sure we align our values with our actions – that, I believe, is what a tragedy like this requires....

If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let's make sure it's worthy of those we have lost. Let's make sure it's not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle.
I wish that I could believe that we will all now turn to the better angels of our natures and think about the political and public sphere in terms of "us" rather than "us vs. them," but we won't.

Not spontaneously, anyway.

What I do hope for, however, is that everyone who has learned the lesson of what you can say versus what you ought to (or ought not to) say will be willing to speak out now when someone crosses a line.  That could, after all, make an enormous difference in what boundaries people try to push going forward.

Imagine a world where accountability starts with you.  Imagine if we all stood up together and demanded better from elected officials and ourselves?  Just imagine it.  And then let us all strive to do just that:  be better, demand better, hold those accountable who are not living up to the promises of better government and citizenship.

Just imagine.

(Photo via Pablo Leautaud.  Just gorgeous, isn't it?)

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