How can you and I help America at this turbulent, critical time in her history, with the whole world dependent, in many ways, upon the course which this great nation takes?
I’ve been mulling this question over in my mind this morning after reading two very interesting stories in newspapers today. One story reports on a new Pew Research survey which finds that “The image of the United States has improved markedly in most parts of the world, reflecting global confidence in Barack Obama.”
The other story that caught my eye was very different in nature. It tells how six months after Obama’s inauguration, “A persistent and noisy legion of doubters won’t let go of an already debunked claim — that he is actually a foreign-born, illegal president.”
The AP story points out how the fears and lies surrounding Obama and his birth are being assisted and fanned by people like right-wing talk show host Rush Limbaugh and CNN’s Lou Dobbs.
“I’ve stopped laughing,” New York Daily News columnist Errol Louis wrote. “Too many political and media leaders are deliberately fanning the flames of ignorance and fear, and they should be ashamed.”
People like Rush Limbaugh probably should be ashamed of themselves. They speak what is in their heart, and what is in their heart is not pretty. It is a destructive brew of prejudice, anger, and fear. But if I get upset by Rush Limbaugh, how does that help? It simply makes him stronger. He feeds not only on the energy of those who agree with him – he feeds on reaction too.
I am not here to feed Limbaugh’s ego.
The point is what can I do to help America? What can you do to help America?
We can offer the one thing America needs above all else at this time — the one thing our own lives need. And that is a calm, steadfast quality of character that is gentle, and yet strong. That spreads truth, not lies. That invokes compassion, not bigotry and hate. That reveals and propagates courage and wisdom and love, not anger and fear.
True character is trustworthy. It does not try to tear others down.
True character admits an error, a shortcoming, if it is revealed. It does not resist change, but welcomes it. And most importantly, true character is steadfast and calm in the midst of the emotional storms and distractions that break out in the world — or in our own lives.
Expressing the true character of our own timeless presence is our primary mission in this world.
People like Barack Obama, who are out on the front lines welcoming change and handling change the best they know how, obviously have a vital role to play in what is to unfold.
Much depends upon them.
But you and I have a vital role to play also. Much depends upon us, too.
“I am responsible,” says the voice of our own true character speaking from the depths of our own being.