I want to share the end of a great article from David Von Drehle, featured in this weekend's Time Magazine (The Bright Side in America Today, June 30, 2016). The full piece discusses America's fractured relationship with itself, but viewed through a post-Brexit lens his understanding of the human heart at the core could provide some resolution and hope to our own surprising circumstances...
"In the cyclone of change, there is an impulse to say no. To try and somehow stop it from happening. You can hear it in even the most positive-sounding messages this year. “Make America Great Again”–Trump’s campaign slogan–strikes an upbeat tone. But listen carefully, and it says that America used to be great, until something changed. Bernie Sanders offered “A Future to Believe In.” Which presumably entails saying no to the future already unfolding.
Henry Adams got something right all those years ago in Paris: the anarchical forces of change are too strong to resist. They can only be shaped, perhaps exploited and ultimately lived with. But living with change, learning from it, making the best of it–that’s where the action is. These day-by-day, incremental responses are the true stuff of life, worked out by individuals, in communities, in families, by themselves.
When we look back across 240 years, creaky but wiser, we find the flawed but visionary founders placing their faith in yes instead of no. Yes to human rights, yes to the ideal of equality, yes to living free and to what they brilliantly called the pursuit of happiness. They recognized that life in a constantly modernizing world must be lived on an individual basis. There must be room to flourish and to fail, to dream big or to think small, to build a fortune or simply to tend a window box.
This Fourth of July, we celebrate this legacy. Though our leaders and institutions are having a tough time of it lately, as individuals we’re still going strong.
We see ourselves tackling local problems, undaunted by the knowledge that next week will bring new problems to tackle, and next month, and next year.
We see ourselves reaching out to one another, sharing talents, combining energies, offering comfort to those hurting and encouragement to those striving.
We see ourselves building new strength in once broken places, bending the machine age to serve human dignity, and crafting the perfect ice cream cone.
Under the dark cloud that seems to have settled over our times, we are weaving this silver lining. We individual human beings, pursuing our own happiness in our own imperfect ways, together make our own unstoppable force. Far from helpless in the grip of change, we have inherited a power more potent than any strongman, ideology or terror. It is ageless. Whether it is enough to win the future is a question born anew with each morning.
Safe to say, though: it’s our best bet."