Write Again: The American ideal

Published 7:35 pm Friday, August 17, 2018

“We have a place, all of us, in a long story — a story we continue but whose end we will not see. It is the story of a new world that became a friend and liberator of the old; a story of a slave-holding society that became a servant of freedom; the story of a power that went into the world to protect but not possess, to defend but not to conquer.

“It is the American story — a story of flawed and fallible people, united across the generations by grand and enduring ideals. The grandest of these ideals is an unfolding American promise that everyone belongs, that everyone deserves a chance, that no insignificant person was ever born.”

Now, those sentiments, friends — powerful, poignant, insightfully and eloquently expressed — are, I believe, a true depiction of “ an unfolding American promise.”

You may be a bit surprised to know who said this. It was President George W. Bush. Even if it was written by a speechwriter, the import of the message is not diminished. He pronounced it.

Such a call to all of us, to heed the better angels of our nature, to live up to our “grand and enduring ideals.”

And, sadly, such a contrast to today’s “acrid cultural and social schisms which exist in contemporary America.” (Richard North Patterson, “Conviction”)

Such a contrast to one who seeks to divide us; one who insults, ridicules, disparages, demeans any who disagree with him. One who seems not to understand that the foundation of democracy is civility and compromise. One whose fissiparous intentions in no way live up to this American ideal. The American promise.

Perhaps the really important question we should ask ourselves is: Which of these two diametrically opposed views do we — you and I — embrace?

Which, indeed.

APROPOS — “We do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.”

— Camus