The recent terror attack in Manhattan has once again reminded us that the fight against evil remains with us. While globalization and the advancement in technology has been a blessing in many ways, it has also been a curse. Fear and anxiety have become ever more prevalent in our lives. We are being challenged today with increasing intensity to find courage and the wisdom to overcome the forces that confront us.
I was heartened to hear a speech former President George W. Bush made at the “Spirit of Liberty” event in New York. (October 19, 2017) He reminded us that there are American values that transcend politics. “We know that the desire for freedom is not confined to, or owned by, any culture; it is the inborn hope of our humanity. We know that free governments are the only way to ensure that the strong are just and the weak are valued. And we know that when we lose sight of our ideals, it is not democracy that has failed. It is the failure of those charged with preserving and protecting democracy.”
When we entered into the war with Germany and fought against fascism, President Roosevelt declared “There is nothing to fear but fear itself!” President Obama emphasized “Hope,” that we must put aside cynicism and apathy and have the “audacity” to pursue a “more perfect union.” Hillary Clinton stated, “There is nothing “wrong” with America that can’t be corrected by what is “right” with America!”
True leadership is about inspiring the “best” that is in us and encouraging us to find common ground. Our current President brings out the “worst” in us. He tells us we are all “victims” of the establishment, the justice department, our “allies” and the press. He rigorously fans the flames of anxiety and fear, sucking away our courage and resilience. As former President Bush observed, “In recent decades, public confidence in our institutions has declined. Our governing class has often been paralyzed in the face of obvious and pressing needs. The American dream of upward mobility seems out of reach for some who feel left behind in a changing economy. Discontent has deepened and sharpened partisan conflicts. Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics are more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.” Further, he states, “Our identity as a nation is not determined by geography or ethnicity, by soil or blood. Being an American involves the embrace of high ideals and civic responsibility.” And he urges, “The very identity of our nation depends on the passing of civic ideals to the next generation.” Finally he urges for a “Call to Action on the major institutions of our democracy, public and private, to consciously and urgently attend to the problem of declining trust.”
The forces of evil will continue to intrude as we proceed into the future. We need to keep truth and love at the spiritual core of our lives. And we must denounce lies and unmask hypocrisy if we wish to remain a “free” country.