28 Jan Lest we Forget, We’re All in the SAME BOAT
Imagine this: You and I are in a crowded but sturdy boat on the open ocean. The boat is our country. We are sailing in the direction of our future. Our success in getting safely to our future destination is not guaranteed and it is not by chance. There are many dangers and things working against us. But we have the power to affect not only how we get to the destination but the experience we have along the way.
Now maybe you’ve decided that you are not crazy about who you are in the boat with or the direction the boat is headed. So, you consider your options. You can choose to get out of the boat. But then your options are pretty limited. You can try to swim. But then you might get picked up by pirates, get eaten by sharks, or succumb to exhaustion.
Or maybe you can pay your way onto someone else’s boat…but you may not be familiar with that boat’s customs — the captain of that boat sets the rules and you won’t have a vote.
Or you can stay in this boat where you have freedom and an ability to participate in setting the direction and culture of the boat. But with that freedom comes responsibilities that every individual in the boat must carry out. Given those options, even if we disagree, I hope you’ll stay in our boat.
Here are some of my observations about being in this same boat:
- As a people we are interdependent. We are in this together. It’s not helpful when people try to prove that one team loves the country more than the other team. It’s not true and it’s not productive. There are not two boats competing to win by getting to the finish line first. We are all in the same boat….and the finish line is the success of our nation.
- As Americans we believe in self-governance. We decide COLLECTIVELY how we will maintain, steer and manage our boat. It can be frustrating. We won’t always “win” or get our way. There will be compromises. But being American means we value what’s best for the whole country over the wants of a single individual. If we do not cherish and succeed in self-governance then much of what we hold dear will be lost.
- We share fundamental values, like liberty, justice and equality. These were also fundamental values of the people who built the boat, many of whom died to preserve and protect them, regardless of political ideology. If we lose our commitment to these foundational values – or allow them to become political — we will be rudderless and adrift. And these values cannot be imposed. They must be held in the heart of everyone who is in the boat.
- We must be honest about the fact that we have made massive errors in the practice of these values – as individuals and as a government. The consequences of those errors have been staggering and caused generational trauma to people in our boat – some sitting right next to us. We must do the hard work of understanding those errors and their consequences and finding ways to correct the course of the boat going forward. The bottom line is that as Americans, we believe the values are still fundamentally sound and worth fighting to get right – toward a more perfect boat.
- Knowing where we’ve been and what was tried and failed, are incredibly important to informing how we navigate our boat forward.
As Americans we are uniquely positioned in the world. We are blessed with vast natural and human resources. Freedom, as protected by our Constitution, has made us the most prosperous and innovative country on earth. Our boat is not perfect, and oh is it easy to dwell on its many imperfections!! But the other options are far, far inferior.
The bottom line is that I’m glad I’m in the same boat with you. Let’s get busy rowing in the same direction.