Spare me the hypocrisy, America

It breaks my heart to write this, but I am angry and disappointed and hope that the shock sparks change.

Like many of you, I woke up this morning with a feed full of #NeverForget posts.

While it may make you feel good to see them and to share them, we have forgotten what it truly means.

What I see in this picture is a real attack on our freedoms.

All the rhetoric about how wearing a mask is an attack on your freedom just doesn’t compare, does it?

What I do not see in this picture are democrats or republicans. I do not see black or white, gay or straight, liberals or conservatives.  I see neighbors, colleagues, strangers, and friends…all part of our American family.

We say #NeverForget as if we will always remember, respect, and honor.

Yet even today, our country, the country I love, is still under attack.  Foreign enemies continue to attack our election processes, they continue to spread disinformation and division through social media, and they continue to try to hack campaigns and sow discord. 

We are under attack from within, by growing numbers of domestic terrorists, whether organized or individuals.  Hate crimes, anti-Semitism, and other types of discrimination are on the rise across the country, leading to an increase in violent attacks.

We are under attack from a disease that has ravaged countries around the globe and caused thousands upon thousands of deaths.  Even if you only believe the lowest of numbers, they are still significantly greater than our losses on 9/11.

Worse yet, we are under attack from each other, allowing partisan politics to divide us and undermine our institutions.  We are not each other’s enemies nor is a free press our enemy. 

So, what have we done to #NeverForget?  Not nearly enough.

We did not care enough to ensure the 9/11 Victim’s Compensation bill was reauthorized and funded until well over a decade after the attacks.

We did not care enough to go out and vote to ensure every voice is heard in our democracy.

We did not care enough to complete our census to make sure every person is counted.

We do not care enough to respect each other and the memories of those we have lost.

Sadly, instead of remaining united in the face of adversity, we have become the most divided this nation has seen since our Civil War.

We mock and denigrate each other because of our beliefs or political party affiliations.

We question each other’s patriotism and oppose everything that doesn’t fit our views, going so far as to tell each other to “leave if you don’t like it”.

We turn a blind eye to suffering and injustice and continue to sow racial division instead of working for equality and equity.

We continue to accept death; from COVID, from school shootings, from police misconduct, and from other forms of violence and disease as ‘acceptable’.

So, are you part of the problem or part of the solution?

#NeverForget cannot just be words or photos or memes on a page.  It must be in action and accountability.

Look back at your feed, at your words and actions. Have you truly been living up to those ideals?  Have you been respectful to your fellow citizens?  Have you taken action to unite or divide?  Have you supported those who have attacked or disrespected others? Have you been kind? Have you ‘unfriended’ someone because they believe differently than you?

Let us not forget that we are still a country at war.  Our troops are still serving in harm’s way.

If we cannot remain united and supportive, what exactly are they defending?

So today, as we should every day, we must not just remember, not just share meaningless words, we must honor that memory with our actions and intent.

If we are truly going to #NeverForget, we must live like we did on September 11th and 12th.  United in our commitments to our country and to each other, respectful and supportive of each other and our beliefs, and dedicated in ensuring that those lives we lost were not in vain. 

Never forget that we are stronger because of our diversity. That truth matters. Trust matters. That we must learn from our past to truly understand our present. That each of us has the power to change the future.

So, before your next post, pause to think about what you are saying and what you are sharing.  Or did you forget already?

#NeverForget #Respect #Freedom #USA #911 #Sept11 #History #Vote #Learn #United #Diversity

July 4, 2020

We cannot feign respect for our flag, for our country, without showing respect for each other.

“It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more”

John Adams

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Thomas Jefferson

I have written several times that the 4th of July is my favorite holiday.

The words, the ideals, written in the Declaration of Independence inspired the birth of a new nation, extolling a government of the People.  A government that derives its just powers from the consent of the governed.

I celebrate excitedly each July; the Grand Experiment in democracy…the birth of the United States.

For as much as we can admire the Founding Fathers, they were not without flaws.  They were not asking us to idolize them, or even emulate them; they were asking us to believe in them, in the ideas and actions that would change the world. 

“They loved their country better than their own private interests; and, though this is not the highest form of human excellence, all will concede that it is a rare virtue, and that when it is exhibited, it ought to command respect. He who will, intelligently, lay down his life for his country, is a man whom it is not in human nature to despise. Your fathers staked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, on the cause of their country.  They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory.”

Frederick Douglass

These conditions do not have to be binary. 

We can look to the past with a critical eye, but together we have an opportunity to create a better future.

While the American Dream has been good to me, Jefferson’s truths have not been so self-evident for everyone.  Equality has been only a dream for too many for too long.  We’ve struggled as a nation to live up to those ideals.  We’ve fought, both in courts and on battlefields, for or against equal rights, and equal justice, for all. 

That history is just as much a part of our present as it is our past.

244 years later, we still struggle with discrimination; in race, religion, gender, sexuality, and much more. 

“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

Edmund Burke

Not only is it incumbent upon us to listen, to learn, and to educate, we have to respect our differences.

Ours is a nation of diversity, of disparity, but it shouldn’t be one of inequity and inequality.

We cannot feign respect for our flag, for our country, without showing respect for each other.

For all those who have fought, and continue to fight, for freedom, liberty, justice, and equality, I am grateful for your passion, commitment, and service.

I celebrate today, with pride and patriotism.  Not blindly, but respectfully, not just to the past, but for tomorrow.  The America I celebrate is the shining city upon a hill, where we teach history based not on what’s in fashion but what’s important, where everyone lives in freedom and equality. It has been only a dream for far too long. Join me in working towards making it a reality. Our celebrations will be that much more meaningful when we can truly share them with everyone.

July 4, 2018

Today is my favorite day of the year.
As a patriot, my love of this country is not about party, it’s not about a specific person, or group, or political belief. It is about the ideas set forth on July 4th, 1776 and cemented with our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Patriot:

a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.

 
Today is my favorite day of the year.
Yes, I love summer. Yes, we all enjoy a day off.
Neither of those is the reason, however.
 
It was 242 years ago when a group of patriots declared their independence from Britain. This was more than a revolution, it was a cause.
A belief that all men are created equal; endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.
 
They set forth not only to dissolve the bonds to Britain, but to create a new form of self-government, in which the government derives its just power from the governed.
This grand experiment had never before been attempted. Change in leadership had always been from violence, or change never happened.
Their idea, our government, was based on a peaceful transition of power. Open and fair elections for all citizens to participate and a free press to speak truth to power. Those powers purposefully separated between executive, legislative, and judicial branches; each equal; none above another, and assigned oversight for each other. The real power lies within the People of this great nation.
 
Today, those truths are not as self-evident, and sometimes truths aren’t evident at all.
The power of the People has been diminished by the power of the dollar.
The press, while still free, is not as independent, thanks to media ownership rules, and battling a campaign labeling different or opposing views as fake.
The oversight among branches of government has been largely sidelined by partisan loyalty.
 
Despite the challenges, we still are the oldest existing nation with a constitutional government in which the people elect their own government and representatives.
Our Republic is facing crisis, but the foundation is solid. We, The People, must continue to use our voice, we must vote for Country over party, we must retain our Rights, and ensure that the Founders concept for a government of the People, by the People, and for the People shall not perish from this earth.
 
As a patriot, my love of this country is not about party, it’s not about a specific person, or group, or political belief. It is about the ideas set forth on July 4th, 1776 and cemented with our Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Too often, politically, we see opposition for one as support of another. We should look beyond petty loyalties, and look to underlying belief. What is best for the country may not always align with your political view, but patriotism isn’t about politics, it’s about country.
So today, as we wave the flag and watch the fireworks, take a moment to reflect upon your own patriotism. Can you put your love of country ahead of a person or a party? Can you accept that we all have been granted the same Rights, enjoy the same freedoms, and believe in the ideals so beautifully expressed 242 years ago?   Are you willing to mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor, as the Founders did?
We must put aside our differences, move beyond our divisiveness, our contempt, and our political loyalties. Please take a moment to read the Declaration of Independence today as a reminder not just of our shared past, but of our common future, as the United States of America.
 
Have a safe and happy Independence Day.
Happy Birthday to the United States of America!

Strength in our Diversity & our Unity

What makes America strong is our diversity AND our unity.

16 years ago, we faced our darkest day when terror reached our shores in an unprecedented display of devastation and destruction.
On that terrible September morning, we did what American’s do best, we came together as one to help and console each other, and to stand united in the face of fear.
We did not ask about politics, religion, race, sex, or anything else; we accepted the helping hands of strangers and relied on unknown shoulders to cry on.
America responded as we always have, with unity.  We joined together with a combined mission to ensure that we were safe, that this would never happen again, and that those responsible would be brought to justice.
After 16 years, however, we seem to forget the strength in our community.  We have spent too much time focusing on the things that divide us, rather than those that bring us together.
Make no mistake, what makes America strong is our diversity AND our unity.
We need leadership that can capitalize on this strength, not just in times of crisis, but in times of peace and prosperity.  We need to embrace our differences, celebrate that we can live together, express our opinions and beliefs, and learn from each other.  We must remember that despite the vast differences we bring as individuals, collectively we become the beacon of freedom, liberty, and justice known as the United States.  Our motto says it best:  E pluribus unim; out of many, one.
We must continue to honor the memory of those we lost 16 years ago.  We must continue to be united in that commitment, in our resolve, and for our Country.  To paraphrase Lincoln, we must ensure that this Great Nation, brought forth by our fathers onto this continent, conceived in Liberty, dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, and with a government of the People, by the People, for the People, shall not perish from the earth.
 
#Remember #Honor #911 #Sept11 #Freedom #Liberty #Rights #USA #Diversity #Community #Unity #EPluribusUnum #UnitedStates #Respect

Independence Day

Today is not just about freedom and liberty. Today is about our Rights and the place of government to secure those Rights; the Rights of the People…the governed.

241 years ago today, 56 brave men signed a document that would forever change their lives, and the course of world history.  It was a treasonous act that put each of them, and their families and friends, at great risk.
On that date, July 4, 1776, these representatives from the colonies declared their independence from Great Britain, dissolving the political bands which had connected them with each other.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident” they boldly stated, although at the time, and since, it’s never been completely self-evident.  In today’s divided political climate, even the ‘truths’ are questioned.
Yet, the grand experiment that began 241 years ago today is still running.  Despite our differences, we unite behind our flag and those famous words that changed the world.
 
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
 
Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. These are our unalienable Rights.  Our government exists to secure those Rights.
Let that sink in for a moment.
We tend to forget the role of government, and where its responsibilities lie.  Today should be a reminder of why we declared our independence, what we expect from our government, and why it is imperative to hold it, and ourselves, accountable.
 
Eleven years after the Declaration was written, we drafted our Constitution, solidifying our form of government and defining its charter:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
 In a time when monarchies were the norm, our Founding Fathers decided on a form of self-government. The government’s purpose was to guarantee our Rights.
Many years later, Jefferson wrote about the Declaration: “all eyes are opened, or opening to the rights of man. the general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth that the mass of mankind has not been born, with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately by the grace of god. these are grounds of hope for others. for ourselves let the annual return of this day, for ever refresh our recollections of these rights and an undiminished devotion to them.”
A poignant reminder from the man who wrote some of the most powerful and significant words in American History.  Jefferson died just a few weeks later, on July 4, 1826.
Those who signed the Declaration of Independence knew how significant their actions were, and pledged “to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor” “for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence”
So today, and on every July 4, let us refresh our recollections of these Rights, what they truly mean, and pledge our undiminished devotion to them.
 
Today, as we celebrate, as we share with family and friends, as we bask in the glory of freedom and fireworks, remember what today is about.
It’s not just a Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. It’s not just the founding words of a new nation conceived. It’s not just about freedom and liberty.  Today is about our Rights and the place of government to secure those Rights; the Rights of the People…the governed.
 
‘Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed’
 
Today, remember the bold actions of those 56 men.  Remember the powerful words that reshaped the world.  Remember the man who wrote them, and honor his life’s devotion to this Great Nation and respect his passing 191 years ago today.
Today, 241 years after that unanimous Declaration, we remain free; not just from the words and actions of those 56 men, forever etched into our history by their signatures, but from the countless men and women who have defended this Nation, and our beliefs, for generations.
Today is a celebration of our Freedom, our Liberty, our Rights, and a solemn reminder of those who believed in them, defended them, and continue to protect them.
 
Thank you, Mr. Jefferson. Thank you to the other 55 representatives who signed the Declaration of Independence. Thank you to all who have served to protect and defend our Constitution, our rights, our freedoms, and our lives.  May God bless you, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.
 

We are more the same than we are different

today, instead of just expressing anger, fear, and confusion, reach out to someone who isn’t like you; learn something new

Terribly saddened by the events of the past days and weeks, not just in the United States, but around the world.
Yet in all the expressions of outrage, and even in words of comfort, we continue to build the barriers that cause all this hatred.
Instead of defining each other by our differences, let’s remember our common bonds.  Stop separating us and them, blue and black, Muslim and Christian, Jew and Gentile,  liberal and conservative.  In the United States, we are all Americans.  We don’t need to create separate classes based on ethnicity, religion, color, or anything else.  American is enough.  Stop the passive distrust caused by breaking us apart.   American lives matter.  All lives matter.
The same is true around the world.  Why must we focus on where we differ, when there is so much that ties us together.
Do we not all occupy the same planet, breathe the same air, bleed the same blood, and fight the same diseases?  These are human conditions, not unique to any continent, country, or civilization.
Take a moment to reflect not just on these recent tragedies, but how you react to them.  What you say and do has a tremendous effect on how you are perceived by others, and how they are perceived, as well.
If we all have a little empathy and understanding, the world would be a better place.  I’d rather listen and learn, than continue to fight based on meaningless words.   I matter, just like you.
So today, instead of just expressing anger, fear, and confusion, reach out to someone who isn’t like you;  learn something new, discuss ideas, embrace differences, create a new friendship, and make the world a better place.

We Will Never Forget

Let us never forget to honor the lives that have been lost with our commitment to the ideals that founded this Nation.

We will never forget.
Four simple words that evoke strong emotions on this day.
We will never forget the shock and horror of seeing planes crash into our buildings, and hearing of the one that crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.
We will never forget the lives that were lost; those on the planes, in the buildings, and those first responders who risked all to save others.
We will never forget the fear that engulfed us; the worry and wonder of what is next.
We will never forget … but we have.
We’ve forgotten what it is like to be American.
We’ve forgotten compassion and concern for our fellow citizens.
We’ve forgotten that our actions, or inaction, have global consequences.
We’ve forgotten that lives matter, all of them, and that community is important to those lives.
America held its collective breath 14 years ago and watched the world change before our eyes.
We came together as one. One nation, indivisible.  The patriotism was strong, as was our humanity.
Today, we are the most divided since the Civil War.  How did we forget what we swore not to?
How did we forget that the people of this great nation are what makes America strong, and that government derives its just power from the governed?
How did we forget that while we are individual states, we are United States?
On that day, did anyone care if the people running from the buildings were black or white?  Republican or Democrat?  Gay or straight?  We held each other close, and clung to the beliefs that we were attacked for who we are; for our freedoms, for our democracy.  Yet those are the very things we’ve sacrificed and forgotten since then.  We debate our inalienable rights.  We distrust and disrespect each other.  We gave up freedoms for greed.
Are we safer today than on that bright September morning 14 years ago?
Have we focused our attentions on the underlying causes and in strategically protecting this Nation?
It saddens me deeply to see us turn our backs on our fellow citizens.  It is frightening to think that our first responders, once so vaunted, are now disrespected and hunted.  Sadly, many are not the heroes we placed on pedestals.  It is disturbing beyond words the lack of respect that pervades the land, and is so ingrained in Washington.  It is a sad reflection of who we are becoming to see us turn our backs on each other, especially those in need, whether here in the United States or across the globe.
While we can take solace that Bin Laden is dead and al-Qaeda all but dismantled, new, stronger threats have emerged. Ones doing greater damage than we ever imagined or expected.  Persecution, anti-Semitism, genocide and destruction are on the rise across the globe, and we forget.  We forget that our shores are not unreachable by those who wish to do us harm.  While we debate each other, they grow stronger.   While Washington is locked in ideological gridlock, the world marches on.
Today, I ask you to remember.
I ask you to remember those we lost, and remember all those who gave selflessly to help others.
I ask you to remember not just where you were, but to remember your thoughts.
I ask you to remember not just what you felt, but remember why you felt it.
I ask you to remember the fear when the buildings fell, and remember the pride of seeing the American flag raised over the rubble.
I ask you to remember your concern; for yourself, your family, your friends, your neighbors.
I ask you to remember that we all have equal rights, individually, and remember that we have a responsibility to ourselves and each other.
I ask you to remember what makes us great, to think about how we can be even better, and to remember that at the polls next year.
I ask you to truly never forget.
Today is a National Day of Service and Remembrance.
I mourn the victims of those terrible attacks, and I mourn the America I love.
Let us never forget to honor the lives that have been lost with our commitment to the ideals that founded this Nation.

July 4, 2015

“The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,”
Much more than just words on a page. They are ideas, ideals and rights.
It is not just about the birth of this great Nation, it is about how we accomplished it.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
So starts one of the most important documents in our history.
Much more than just words on a page.   They are ideas, ideals and rights.
It is not just about the birth of this great Nation, it is about how we accomplished it.
We didn’t just become free, we desired freedom.  We didn’t just fight to be free, we declared our intentions.  We aired our grievances, and laid the foundations for our Constitution, Bill of Rights, and way of life.
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
Each person signing this document was committing an act of Treason against Great Britain, an action punishable by death.   With this Declaration, and the actions that followed, the thirteen colonies would forever be free.
While each colony may have been different, we stood as ‘one people’.
Our differences make us unique, but our beliefs unite us.
We are united in our commitment that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
A new Nation was formed with a new government:  “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
‘Just powers from the consent of the governed.’  Perhaps some of the most important and sometimes overlooked words in the Declaration. Our government only has certain powers.  Those powers are granted by the people.  We cannot forget that the government doesn’t give us rights, they are ours.
Liberty and Freedom are still important tenets of our lives.  Every day, brave men and women put on uniforms and risk their life defending our beliefs.   They don’t fight for our government, they fight for our People.  Every day, I’m thankful for all who work tirelessly to protect and defend our freedoms.
We remain a diverse people; it is one of the things that makes these United States great.  We will always have our differences, but we must always bring with them respect.  Respect for other opinions, other cultures, and other ideas.   Our rights come responsibilities, to ourselves and to each other.
As we celebrate today, remember the reason, remember the risk, and remember the sacrifice.
Above all else, remember our rights and that the protection of those rights is the responsibility of the government.  We must continue to ensure that the People, and our Rights, come first.
After 239 years, we’re still learning, but with continued trust and respect, this government of the People, by the People and for the People, shall not perish from this Earth.
Happy Birthday, America.

It is not enough just to remember, we must honor the memory.

It is not just today, but every day, that we should honor those who serve, and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

This country was founded on the belief that all men are created equal.  That each of us have certain unalienable Rights: including Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  The Founding Fathers were so determined to protect these rights, not only did they declare their independence, they pledged mutually to each other their Lives, Fortunes and sacred Honor.
It seems a foreign concept to most people today, except for a distinct few.  Among those few are those who have answered the call to service.  It is not just today, but every day, that we should honor those who serve, and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Today, we pay our respects to those who have died in service to our Country.
Those who gave their lives, so we may have ours.
Those who believed, above all, that preservation of our rights … our freedoms … is worth not only fighting for, but dying for.
So today, Memorial Day, is not just a day for picnics and beaches.   It does not just mark the unofficial start of summer.  It is a day of remembrance, of honor, of respect.
It is a day that should be held high for all of us.  The foundations of the very lives we live today are built upon those who gave to preserve our freedoms.  It is not enough just to remember, we must honor the memory.
We cannot allow the memories of those who fought with such valor to be tarnished by those who don’t respect the sacrifice.  We cannot call ourselves free if the very people we elect to represent us are holding us hostage to political play.
Today, and every day, we must hold accountable those in power.  We must remind them of why we declared our independence and what our principles are.  We hold these truths to be self-evident.  We are a nation of the People, by the People, and for the People.
Today, I pause and pay my respects to those who have given all in service to this great Nation.
I thank you for the lives you’ve given.  You gave yours…and gave me mine to live.  It is incredibly humbling to recognize the sacrifice and put it into perspective.  One life, for many.   I sleep soundly under the blanket of freedom that you have provided.
Freedom and Liberty aren’t just ideas, they are the basis of our existence.  Words cannot convey the appreciation for those who have defended those principles to this day.
For all who serve in defense and support of our Constitution, I thank you.
In memory of your fallen brothers and sisters, I join you in mourning, in remembering, in honoring their service and sacrifice.  I pledge to continue to hold dear the ideals, the rights, the freedoms, they gave their lives for.
May god bless each and every one of you, and may god continue to bless the United States of America.

We need more than an American Dream, we must have an American Plan.

I long for an America that doesn’t exist.
An America where all law-abiding citizens are treated equally and respectfully, regardless of age, race, religion, skin color, wealth or income, sexual preference, gender, or any of the many diverse things that make us unique.
An America where those who break the law are given due process in a judicial system that is fair and swift.  Where we can rehabilitate those who have transgressed our laws and provide a path towards rejoining society.
An America where we look out for each other; care for our injured, our sick, our weak, our young and our elderly.  Where health is not a hope, but a basic right, and where no one should struggle for the care they need and deserve.
An America that truly believes in education.  Where our children, and their children, can grow and learn and compete on a global scale.  Where we encourage learning and reward those who teach and teach well.
An America where no one goes hungry.  Where we don’t subsidize farmers to not grow crops, or where we export foods before we utilize them for ourselves.  Where those who work can afford to put food on their table, and where those who can’t are cared for.
An America where we can feel safe and secure in our homes, our jobs, our schools, our parks, and in our streets.  Where police have the tools and staff to protect and serve, and where our military has the intelligence and the might to keep us safe.
We need more than an American Dream, we must have an American Plan.
I long for an America that can exist.  Let us be united in making it happen.