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Ruminations of a Feisty Old Quaker

We are better people than this.

We are not so poor in material goods that we cannot share with others, nor so poor in spirit that we will refuse to share.

We are not so shallow that we care only for wealth, nor so short-sighted that we will destroy the only Earth we have to obtain it.

We are not so fearful that we must build walls against immigrants, nor so intolerant that we will shut our doors against neighbors who are not exactly like the rest of us.

We have elevated a greedy fool to the presidency, but that greedy fool does not represent who we are. We have elected a Congress that puts the welfare of the extremely wealthy above the welfare of the rest of us, but that Congress does not represent who we are, either.

We are better people than this.

We are compassionate. Our hearts warm to tales where justice and fairness triumph. We honor those who sacrifice themselves to save others. We always root for the underdog.

We are courageous. We are not afraid to tackle big projects, nor to set lofty goals. We are persistent; we are not easily disuaded by setbacks. We are not reckless, but true courage never is. True courage retreats when it is prudent to do so - and then finds ways to advance again.

We are wise. We have created a constitutional democracy which, though often abused, has nevertheless lasted intact for well over two centuries. We have placed limits on the powers of our leaders to command obedience. We have created legal barriers against destruction of our common property, and against mistreatment of individuals based on who they are rather than what they do. We have protected places of beauty, and places of great natural wealth, against the whims of those who would destroy those places solely for financial gain.

Above all, we are resourceful. We are a nation of tinkerers. We create things; we fix things; we find ways to make things happen. We may be impatient, and we may occasionally cut corners, but always out of the sticks and wheels and wires and patches comes something that works. This applies equally well to our social and political structures as it does to our machines. We are doers; we are makers. And our eyes are always on the stars.

We are living today through difficult times. Greed is ascendant, and is rapidly using its power to remove all existing limits on the flowering of further greed. Lies have replaced truth in public discourse; growth is pursued regardless of cost. Selfishness has replaced community as our principal value. We have been encouraged to see ourselves, not as companions on a journey, but as victimizers and their victims. The most important of all freedoms, the freedom of the ballot box, is under attack.

But this cannot and will not continue. Greed and selfishness carry the seeds of their own destruction. Human lives - the lives of our families and friends and neighbors, the lives of the poor and marginalized, the lives of all people everywhere - are not an acceptable cost of business. Growth is no longer good when it threatens the resources we depend upon for our existence. Dr. King was right: the long arc of the universe does indeed bend toward justice. It bends toward justice, because we have bent it that way.

And we will bend it again now.

Because we are better people than this.
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