This morning on my drive into work, I heard an NPR story about two individuals who decided to go to Houston with their boat to help rescue people from flooded homes. When asked why they were there, they simply answered: “We have an obligation to help.”
I am repulsed each day by what I read and hear on the news about what’s happening in our country—and to our country. Outright lies about political issues, deflections over personal responsibility, and bait and switch arguments over reality have left many of us bewildered about the state of America. In these troubled times, we must guard against cynicism and turning against one another.
While we watch in disbelief the unfolding White House drama, congressional members scurry for cover, and everyday Americans continue to lose faith in leaders of all sorts. There is one individual in America today who represents the kind of leadership we need: Pat Llodra, the First Selectman, or mayor, of Newtown, CT, who recently announced her retirement. Pat helped guide Newtown after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre of twenty first graders and six adults.
President Trump’s first 100 Days is fast approaching, and he and his administration are racing to get things done in order to declare success. Many Americans, the news media and political pundits, among others, will offer their own opinions on his performance. But here’s a different question to consider at this juncture of the new president’s term: What about “our” first 100 days—how are we responding to the challenges around us?
Just last week, the infamous main gate through which prisoners were herded into the Nazi death camp Dachau—with the words, “Work will set you free” inscribed on it—was found in Norway after being stolen back in 2013. This was the same entrance gate that I once gently pushed on early one morning, only for it to open, and for me to find myself alone for hours inside this vast site of despair.
In some ways it can feel like the country is splintering after the recent presidential election. Protests against President-elect Trump are now taking place in cities across the country. Vandalism of churches and physical violence in the name of Trump are emerging. The nation seems to be fracturing along lines of smaller tribes, where people are divided by race and ethnicity, where they live and who they routinely talk with. One question is: What should Mr. Trump do now?
I didn’t expect to cry when I stood up in front of 125 people in Atlanta, Georgia last week. It wasn’t until I was handed the microphone and opened my mouth to speak that I realized that tears were trying to spring forth. I had to pause to stop the croak of sobbing which tried to come from my throat. I had to pause several times. I want to cry now as I am writing this to you—to you, my community.