John McCain’s final message
Sen. John McCain’s farewell letter made me cry. Have you read it? You should. Everyone should.
And, doing so is no reflection at all on a person’s political ideas or the party with which one hopes to appear affiliated. It has nothing to do with how you feel about the president, or the Affordable Care Act, or the military … none of it.
Reading it is simply an opportunity to absorb what one public servant who had enough warning time before he died to write them believed were the most important things he could say to the American people.
He described America’s causes, “liberty, equal justice, respect for the dignity of all people,” and the honor he felt in being affiliated with those causes during his time in public life.
“Our identities and sense of worth are not circumscribed but enlarged by serving good causes bigger than ourselves,” he said.
He called this republic “a nation of ideals, not blood and soil.”
And then he dove right in:
“We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been.”
No, I am not blind to the one word he chose with great deliberation in that segment. Skip the political fist-pumping (or fist-shaking) and try to see the bigger message.
McCain went on to ask Americans, whom he acknowledged have always had a tendency to “argue and compete and sometimes even vilify each other in our raucous public debates,” to remember we have much more in common than in disagreement.
“If only we remember that and give each other the benefit of the presumption that we all love our country we will get through these challenging times. We will come through them stronger than before. We always do,” he wrote.
Tomorrow is Labor Day. Once upon a time, it was a holiday on which the nation’s workers were celebrated for their contribution in building the country we love so much. That’s what we do. We work. We build things. If a way does not yet exist, we make one.
And so, McCain said, “Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.”
Our work now, then, is in remembering we make that history TOGETHER. No matter your political affiliation, education, income, race, gender, age, abilities, sexual orientation, religion (or not) … no matter the details of your life that have shaped your opinions, we are all on the same side — or should be. And we all want to be heading in the same direction: forward … rising.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could take a cue from McCain’s last message to us, and help each other get there?
Christina Myer is executive editor of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. She can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org