Caring Forms The Ripple
We experienced the beginning of a ripple last Saturday as Senator John McCain was eulogized at the Washington National Cathedral. This blog gave tribute to the senator last week (See It’s An Honor To Serve America). This week we recognize what his example and his words ask of us. A ripple formed and challenges all of us to step up, step forward, to care about this great nation.
It’s important to realize what John cared about in regards to these United States. As Barack Obama noted in his tribute to Senator McCain:
John cared about the institutions of self-government, our constitution, our bill of rights, rule of law. Separation of powers. Even the arcane rules and procedures of the senate. He knew that in a nation as big and boisterous and diverse as ours, those institutions, those rules, those norms are what bind us together. Give shape and order to our common life. …he championed a free and independent press as vital to our democratic debate.
Caring for these ideas were the basis for the idealism he held dear. They are worth our attention and our protection.
As George W. Bush’s tribute to John McCain emphasized:
…[John McCain] dedicated his life to national ideals that are as perfect as men and women have yet conceived.
He was motivated by a vision of America carried ever forward, ever upward, on the strength of its principles. He saw our country not only as a physical place or power but as the carrier of enduring human aspirations.
The aspects of this nation that continuously remind us to care were echoed in Meghan McCain’s tribute to her father:
The America of John McCain is generous and welcoming and bold. She’s resourceful, confident, secure. She meets her responsibilities. She speaks quietly because she’s strong. America does not boast because she has no need to.
The Ripple Of Challenge Is For All Of Us
These sentiments fill all of us with pride not because of their individual worth, but because, collectively, we care about them as one nation.
From this epicenter of combined principles, the ripple—the challenge—goes out to each of us to participate in this grand idea we call our national home. We are asked to make the best of what we have and then add to it for generations to follow. You could almost hear John McCain admonishing us as the tributes came forth.
McCain’s Challenge Is Immediate
Barack Obama quoted Hemingway, one of McCain’s favorite authors:
Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be. But what will happen in all the other days that ever come can depend on what you do today.
The ripple of challenge we’re sensing is upon us. It’s now. It’s today.
Meghan McCain reminded us:
Just as the first Americans looked upon a new world full of potential for a grand experiment in freedom and self confidence, so their descendants have a responsibility to defend the old world from its worst self.
We must do this collectively. Even if, especially if, we disagree. We are asked to serve a cause (our nation) that’s greater than ourselves.
Obama noted his personal takeaway from knowing John:
We stood together on America’s role as the one nation, believing that with great power and great blessings comes great responsibility.
[Today we celebrate a spirit]… that striving to be better, to do better, worthy of the great inheritance that our founders bestowed.
What better way to honor John McCain’s life of service than as best we can follow his example to prove that the willingness to get in the arena and fight for this country is not reserved for the few, it is open to all of us, and in fact it is demanded of all of us as citizens of this great republic.
That’s perhaps how we honor him best, by recognizing that there are some things bigger than party or ambition or money or fame or power, that the things that are worth risking everything for, principles that are eternal, truths that are abiding.
Responding To The Challenge
I raise a small voice with this blog in hopes it meets the challenge we heard this past weekend. Every presidential election I watch as millions of presidential ballots are cast aside due to the winner-takes-all approach (See A Cancer Is Attacking Our Presidential Elections). It’s a disastrous approach that disengages citizens from a central tenet of our democracy: Every vote counts and every state matters.
Equal Voice Voting offers the most viable response to this injustice. We need everyone’s voice—his or her vote—when electing our president. Equal Voice Voting is the critical response for all social justice issues we face! It is so because the presidency touches every other social justice issue. Be it wars or world peace, environment, immigration, income inequality, fair housing and the homeless, health, race… the list goes on. Our president weighs in on them all so fairness in his/her election is paramount for our best futures.
As George W. Bush reminded us:
Strength of democracy is renewed by reaffirming the principles on which [this nation] was founded…
If we’re ever tempted to forget who we are, grow weary of our cause; John’s voice will come as a whisper over our shoulder. We are better than this. America is better than this.
The ripple of caring is crossing America and will wash over us again and again. Let’s rise to the challenge and this occasion and participate in this caring for who we are—for this great nation. Let’s keep it going!