Beacons in the Storm

Author: Gary Hart

Nothing in the U.S. Constitution guarantees that we will have strong leaders or, for that matter, uninterrupted progress.  Someone recently pointed out that we had very flawed or mediocre presidents between Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln and then between Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.  So, historically, the nation does muddle through as often, if not more so, than it takes a principled stand.

Observing the history of America’s lurches from one side to the other and forward and then backward, Winston Churchill said: Depend on the Americans to do the right thing…after they have tried everything else.

This history of lurching offers some comfort in today’s strange political culture.  We have had, in that history, periods of isolationism, anti-immigration, intolerance, bigotry, racism, gender discrimination (women could not vote until about a hundred years ago), and a litany of bad cultural behavior.  In almost every case such behavior occurred most prominently in periods of great stress when the status quo was upset by waves of new reality.

There is in the American society, if not humanity at large, a segment of people who are easily angered by social change, ready to blame the symbols of that change, and looking for someone to voice their anger.  The political pundits and historians are mining this history.

Continued study of our history provides reassurance that we will, once again, muddle through this period.  Nothing would help more than a sustained period of economic opportunity so that those threatened with irrelevance or redundancy gained genuine hope for financial security.  Equally important will be a deep understanding that different races must live side by side in mutual respect.  Slowing of mass migration will help.  Stable communities and families are required.  The owners of wealth must overcome greed with concern for community and national stability.

In other words, our collective humanity, our respect for each other, our sense of obligation and service, our love of our unique nation and the unique experiment it represents, must all rise up and make us better people.  No political savior can guarantee this.  But mediocre political figures can prevent it only if we let them.  In other words, our destiny is in our own hands.

Even in the storm of political media cacophony there are beacons.  There are stories of individual sacrifice.  Individual people lending a hand to someone in need.  Strangers stopping and returning to help a fellow human being in trouble.  People giving dollars they need to help feed hungry children.  One fellow picks up another fellow who has fallen.  A neighbor leaves food on the doorstep.  A restaurant provides a meal without charge.  A worker takes a pay cut so that a colleague will not be fired.  A young student raises money for other children with cancer.  There are occasional media stories of someone lending a hand.

In today’s political storm, we must keep focus on decency, humanity, community, respect, humility, and concern for others.

Right now, we Americans are better than many of those seeking political power.  If we keep the beacons of hope lit in this period of storm and darkness, we will, in the words of William Faulkner, not only survive, we will prevail.

5 Responses to “Beacons in the Storm”

  1. Paul Borg Says:

    Dear Senator Hart,

    I am sure that if each of us take full and personal responsibility for every choice we make, we will indeed “do the right thing”. Let our conscience be our guide.

    The Disney animation of an old Italian novel puts a distinctively American spin on a universal theme. I quote the Blue Fairy as She assigns Jiminy Cricket the role of guiding his wooden friend through the process of becoming a real boy.

    “I dub you Pinocchio’s conscience, lord high keeper of the knowledge of right and wrong, counselor in moments of high temptation, and guide along the straight and narrow path. Arise, Sir Jiminy Cricket.”
    ―The Blue Fairy.

    Let us be wary of those who try to challenge our Innocence or try to make us believe It no longer exists. In my experience, Innocence is never destroyed, just covered up and rendered less effective as the guiding force It is intended to be.

  2. Gary Hart Says:

    Thanks, Paul. You got it.

  3. Paul Borg Says:

    Dear Senator Hart,

    As always, you are welcome.

    We have had to endure and adapt to the subtle and not so subtle oppressive forces unleashed by two world wars. The damage that resulted from the collective wounds inflicted by those forces are evident both within us and externally. Credit must be given to those who struggled against succumbing to the evil (for want of a better word) and did their best to counter the effects. The present generation of young people are the new hope. I think they recognize the old warriors and have respect for what they hoped to accomplish. If their Innocence guides them and we give them freedom to act we might realize the end of the Oppression and the beginning of something Wonderful.

  4. Nick Spiro Says:

    Hell yes, Senator Hart.

  5. LORENZO CHERIN Says:

    Senator Hart

    You have a way of saying profound things with immediacy,of finding meaning in the simple,and simplicity in the meaningful, I like your style and get it !

    This week was the 90th anniversary of the birth of the late , and to many of us , very great, Marilyn Monroe. Born the same year as the queen of my country , Queen Elizabeth 11. So very aware,on such occasions,whatever walk of life , whatever the success,or sometimes , failure, the difference people make, in such very small and, at times, very large ways. When I think of Marilyn Monroe , I smile, though born after her death, her radiance lights up any moment I encounter her , and often , I do.She was an actress, a star , a woman, an individual, a liberal, a Democrat. She cared a lot more than many about very deep things, yet is remembered for the persona of a so called dumb blonde , which she so obviously was not !She made an awful mess of so much, but how much more she made, uniquely , spectacularly , wonderful!

    Her Majesty is still much loved , too. And thankfully still with us.There is a touching clip of the two of them meeting backstage at the Royal Film Premiere of The Prince and The Showgirl, in the 1950s. Two young women.Both smiling !!

    The article herein on this post makes me aware, as do these birthdays , how one person, like the many individuals alluded to, making their unsung difference amidst the noise and clamour ,are appreciated,but sometimes not as they should be, so the great and the good are similar only and especially in the difference made and the extent appreciated.

    Rather like the Senator , no longer a Senator , who can do as much , and does , as ever when he was one.

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