The world is swimming in controversies, and it is easy to pick sides — but less easy to look and ask real questions within our hearts as to who we are and who we wish to be.

My greatest concern right now is how childish we Americans often sound. We have grown so used to taking broad strokes or marching only with one group or embracing only one religious thought that we often do not take the time to re-examine ourselves and our world and consider how others feel.

The hope that the United States will look like the 1950s is a poor hope. In fact, it is dead — and perhaps should be. We have moved well away from being an all-white nation to a mix of colors and faiths. We have always been a nation of many faiths, but now it may seem more so because of the blending of colors and the global travel that has admitted even more folks to our land.

“Our land” is an odd phrase, since it clearly is not ours. We took over the land and should remember both that true history and the fact that the globe is not something we own, but something to cherish. The Earth is our primal mother. Without a healthy mother providing clean food, air and water, we shall perish.

Our land, if we must call it that, needs the support of her children to keep her as our wellspring. I worry that we are now placing our hopes for that back into the hands of corporations as we lose regulations that set a floor, not a ceiling, of expectations on protecting our mother from pollution and a slow death.

Our history does not support the idea that corporations, and we as stockholders, will hold ourselves to a very high standard of protecting our mother’s health. She needs more than my words. But for now, we choose to put her into play — hoping that our stock returns will be even better, that “job creation” will happen, and that our children will not drink the waters of Flint or the Duke Energy ash dumps. Our land, our mother, needs all the luck she can muster.

We, like thoughtless teenagers, use words that injure and hurt. And we often seem to forget that actual people are being injured.

We need strong borders. That is true. But do we really need to tear families apart? We need to be sensible and at the same time sensitive to those who have worked with us and by us, sometimes for decades, and are now fearful of being torn asunder. Yes, that is a compassionate thing to hope for. But as Easter and Passover have reminded us, compassion is in the word for now.

Our leaders and representatives need to guard their words so that Lincoln does not become Hitler, Jews did die in the Holocaust, and not everyone who has an opposing opinion is evil or stupid. Their words should be more thoughtful and truthful.

No one is without blame or responsibility or the ability to make all of this easier and kinder. If it were not so, we should simply close the windows and turn on the gas, because it would not be worth staying here.

Our national words should include hope, contentment, striving, change, creativity, flexibility and collaboration. “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union,” is where we started, and “a more perfect union” means moving forward all the time for the people and for our world as it evolves.

Because we need to keep trying to improve while honoring the past and living in the world of today, we should be glad of our many faiths, many colors and many paths leading toward that more perfect union.

Democracy — and that means us, the citizens — is never a tidy, one-size-fits-all thing. But we can choose to use our words with care and to listen to others, especially when we disagree. To assume that only one set of folks can be right is so limiting, and it smacks of the totalitarian. “We the people” are a messy conglomerate. And it is all the more lovely because we can stand as a testament that unity amounts to acceptance of diversity.

Children are one thing. But we, the adults in the equation, must put down our childish words and shoulder our own calling — which is to find harmony.

 

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