Robert Frost said, "In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life.
It goes on."
Time is fleeting. Countless events, people, heartaches, joys and despair happen around us continually, and time is simply the ever-stalwart soldier that marches on. In its silent tread, it reminds, heals, teaches, gives perspective; it motivates and depresses. And in the end, it is no respecter of persons. Inevitably, it goes on.
I think back to a short eleven years ago to the morning of September 11th, 2001. It’s the most recent teacher of perspective that time has to offer us of mass loss and learning. In the days, weeks, months, even a few years to follow, we as a people became knitted together: in a cause, in love, in loss, in patriotism, and most notably, indivisible under God.
Churches across the nation were more full than ever before. The foundation of everything we had known to be true was yanked out from under our feet that day. Our country was reeling and grasping for a sense of right and truth to be restored. We were openly vulnerable in an undeniable and connective way that only human suffering affords. It was a powerful, undeniable wave of humanity that was inspiring and humbling to be a part of.
Instantly, we saw our flag through new eyes, and our fellow man with softened hearts. The women and men killed that day were suddenly as much our mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers as they were to the people who truly lost them. There was no mocking of God, or the values our country was built on, but a clinging to them. We were immensely proud of these facts more than ever before and would defend against anyone who threatened them again.
And life goes on.
2012: I look around at our current America and she is a stranger to me in so many ways. Like seeing someone you love after a car accident. It’s them, while at the same time, it can’t possibly be. Where there was unity, there is division. Where it seemed the simple draping of our flag demanded respect and awe, there are countries now burning it in their streets. Where there was a turning of hearts and minds to faith, family and God, there is a systematic denial and indifference. The mere word ‘religion’ is almost spat out by the media with disgust and mistrust.
Where there was once an outcry with one voice, there is now dissension, class warfare, and lines drawn deeply in the sand. There is a desire to be divided and contrary one with another simply for division’s sake, rather than any real desire to seek for truth and understanding.
While we are capable of so much good, time quietly shows us that pride continues to be our downfall. Time distances us from the moments that define and change us, until we forget what the enemy had been and assume we must have healed ourselves.
America as we know it is changing. It’s hard to recognize that change when you’re living it. It will be much easier to read a book 20, 50, or 100 years from now and see things clearly, with the perspective of historians. It rightly seems odd that it is truly us here, now, that are making the pivotal decisions that will forever mark what happens in our lifetime and generations to come. But make no mistake that America IS changing, and we all have the ability and wherewithal to chart the course of the change it takes.
We will soon enter either a time of rebuilding and posterity, or one of enslavement to the path of least resistance. It will be a time of rediscovering love for our neighbor and fellow man in service, or a time of bitterness and blame. It will be a time of new ideas, innovation, and the use of technology to bring us to new heights and discoveries around the world, or a time cloaked in fear of that very technology and the world’s common hatred of us. It will either be a time of truth-seeking and shining the light on those who would deceive and lead us astray, or a question of who will be able to manipulate us the best until our intuition and agency seem a useless gift. It will either be a time where we defend the very values and principles on which our country was founded, or abandon of them for the notion that we need no one but ourselves.
Time will not wait for us to swallow our pride. Make your choices and stand firm behind them. Get involved in this election and do not stand idly by, convinced your contributions and voice don’t matter. When our world changed eleven years ago, the choices and path of the American people were swift, strong and clear. We acted on what rang true and right in our hearts, knowing that tomorrow depended on it. If we want to continue to be a beacon of hope, prosperity, liberty and faith, we must admit our mistakes, and come together again. We must consistently demand the highest standard of behavior from our elected officials, the media and ourselves. If we do not, we will fail and we will most certainly suffer the consequences.
You are only here once, what do you want your one life to be like? Individually and collectively, we hold the power to choose the course of the life we lead. And for better or for worse, it will go on.