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.

Memorial Day 2019

As I pay my respects to those who have given all in service to this great nation, I pledge to do more and ask each of you to join me. Each action we take, regardless of how large or small, honors those who have sacrificed.

“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.”

Since those words were written in 1776, soldiers have fought to defend the ideals defined in our Declaration of Independence.  They have fought not just for that independence, but for liberty, freedom, and equality.

These are more than just words on a page, they represent our unalienable Rights.  They define who we are and what we are as a people.  These Rights have been worth defending since before we were a country and then enshrined in our Constitution after we won the Revolutionary War.

“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.”

For 230 years, men and women have put on the uniforms of our armed forces and sworn an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

Throughout that time, millions have served, and thousands have died.

Today, we honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our Nation and all that we stand for.  Several years ago, I wrote that it wasn’t enough just to remember, we must honor the memory.

As hatred and isolationism grow in the United States and around the world, as the press more frequently comes under attack, as our institutions are circumvented, and our very Constitution is questioned, I wonder if we’re truly honoring the memory of all those who have served and sacrificed.

We are still more divided than united when it comes to politics and policy.

Our armed forces do not represent red or blue states, they represent the United States.  There are no Democrat soldiers or Republican soldiers, there are American soldiers.

Today, as we reflect with respect on the service and sacrifice of so many, we should pledge to either put aside or embrace our differences and work to uphold the ideals of unity so many fought and died for.

If we are going to honor their memory and their sacrifice, we must adhere to the same ideals, pledge the same allegiance, and respect the same Constitution.

We honor their sacrifice not with ceremonies and celebrations, but with actions and words.

We honor their sacrifice with a commitment to truth, knowledge, and fact.

We honor their sacrifice with respect, empathy, and care for each other.

We honor their sacrifice by being informed, engaged, and holding ourselves, and each other, accountable.

We honor their sacrifice by continuing to form a more perfect union, not by dividing and demeaning each other.

As I pay my respects to those who have given all in service to this great nation, I pledge to do more and ask each of you to join me.  Each action we take, regardless of how large or small, honors those who have sacrificed.

Words can never convey the deep respect, admiration, and appreciation I have for those who have defended our country and its ideals.  I am thankful for everyone who has ever worn the uniform and sworn the oath.  Today, as every day, I’m humbled to recognize those who gave all in service to the United States. 

Today is Memorial Day, but we should live as if every day is.

May god bless each and every one of you, and may god continue to bless the United States of America.

Pay It Forward Day 2019

“It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising their sovereignty.” – James Monroe, born on this date in 1758

Today is Pay It Forward Day.

Rather than simply holding a door or buying a cup of coffee for a stranger, I’m making a much bigger ask this year.

Raise your voice to ensure that attacks at schools, churches, synagogues, and other places of worship, work, and education, are unacceptable; that perpetrators are held accountable, and that violence and hatred have no place in our society.

Hold your elected officials accountable and push them to focus on the important aspects of our society:  our health, our education, our infrastructure, and our safety.

Both parties are guilty of distracting us from what we need to capitalize on what they want.

We should not accept the narrative from either side but focus on what is best for ALL Americans.

No one should go bankrupt to care for their child or spouse, and everyone should have access to quality, affordable care.  Treatment options and outcomes should be dependent on science, not on geography.

All children deserve an education that prepares them for a successful future, that establishes a lifelong yearning for knowledge, and a quest for truth and facts that drive their decisions today and tomorrow.

We will no longer abide by partisan divisiveness and insurmountable debt while our critical infrastructure crumbles.  We must have dependable roads, bridges, and tunnels.  Children should have safe passages to their schools, and our utilities should be reliable, efficient, and secure.

We should not live in fear of our neighbors, the police, or our government.

Government derives its just powers from the governed, and it is beyond time we take our rightful place in oversight.

“It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising their sovereignty.”  – James Monroe, born on this date in 1758

On this Pay It Forward Day, let’s preserve the legacy and memories of our Founding Fathers, our military veterans, and all who have sacrificed to guarantee our way of life, based on our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, and our Bill of Rights.

We must continue to pay it forward with our passion, our commitment, and our voice, to ensure we remain a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Thank you!