The word that I cannot get out of my mind today.
No matter what detractors may think or say, we are a resilient people. We may be a nation of defiant individualists; we may complain about conditions – sometimes too much; we may disagree adamantly about the way to solve problems, about best solutions, about the future of the world and what is good for society. We often hold tight to those differing opinions and are quick to voice them.
Deep at the heart of it all, though, we are a nation of optimists, of thumb-your-nose at the worst that befalls us believers in the reality of good; of roll-up-your-sleeves and get-back-to-work do-ers who are prepared to meet challenges head on and triumph over setbacks.
We saw that spirit over the past few days in Florida. We witnessed it last week in Houston and along the Gulf Coast. We have watched the horror of wild fires in the West and been told of the ongoing battles against them. We have seen it on the world stage. We have witnessed ordinary people helping other ordinary people in an outpouring of concern and the desire to make things better.
Perhaps we should remember that, think less about our differences and more about our resilience and our shared, collective purpose. We have been, and still are, a beacon of hope – as much to ourselves as to others.
Watching television coverage of natural events, I have been struck anew – brought almost to tears, but with smiles that I could not suppress – by the goodness exhibited during the worst of times. Volunteers join professionals; Coast Guard cutters and helicopters work together as do airplanes and cruise ships. Doctors and electricians, school children and businessmen, volunteer housewives and government officials, entertainers and sports figures – all come together in times of crisis.
A flotilla of private boats arrived to help out in Houston. And power company trucks formed a convoy from Minnesota to Florida. Hot shot firefighters traveled from Texas to Montana and the Pacific Northwest.
We all participate in the clean up and the rebuilding, we help the less fortunate and care for the hurt and grieving among us. We reach out to assist other nations and cultures, and we send not only our money, but we give of our time and resources. Much of the time, we do it with no thought of compensation, no expectation of thanks.
And that gives me hope. How can you view it otherwise? Come to think of it, there is another word that comes to mind.
As a country, we have proved our mettle in wars foreign and domestic, through flu outbreaks and dust bowls and stock market collapses, through bank failures and housing bubbles, through shipwrecks and space shuttle explosions, through natural disasters and terrorist attacks, and through many years during which issues have been hotly contested. As a nation, we have never faltered nor been defeated, never lost hope, never put aside our ability to laugh at ourselves, never given up.
And that gives me hope as well. It gives me hope that we will weather the current storms – both literally and metaphorically – that plague our nation.
During a moment of silence yesterday morning, repeated at four separate locations in the East and led by our president and first lady, we remembered what it took to get through one horrendous moment in our history. September 11, 2001. We survived then. We will now.
Today is September 12, 2017. Isn’t it time to get back to work? All of us; together.