While watching the Democratic presidential debate, one of the closing questions hit home. Candidates were asked to mention either something they’d ask forgiveness for, or to offer a gift to other candidates or the country. This struck me as something every one of us needs.
The gift I need, and can best offer others is acceptance. The tone of our political discourse has become toxic and dispiriting. What gives me hope is the experience I have when talking one-on-one with others — even others I disagree with. When we talk, I come away feeling respect for the other person, and respected in turn. We all want what’s best for our society. Deep down we are all human beings, and children of God.
When we work together, we human beings are capable of amazing things.
Let me share a story that inspired me years ago.
I was traveling through Yellowstone National Park, and came across a huge traffic jam. A large dead tree, perhaps 70 feet long, fell across the road. Getting a crane down the jammed two lane road in the middle of the park could take hours. But there were about a hundred of us standing around. Spontaneously we all stepped forward, put a shoulder into the tree, and like a miracle, moved that tree right off of the road. It was incredible.
I don’t know of something heroic that we can all put a shoulder to this minute. But when we have faith, and work together, there is nothing we can’t do. The vision of that tree gives me hope. That hope, and my respect and compassion for all of you is the best gift I can give.
I would like to close with a line that inspired me a few years ago. It came, surprisingly enough, in an advertisement for an Apple iPhone. The line is from a poem by Maya Angelou:
“We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.
We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.”