Amy Bergeron, Sartell
Where did we start losing perspective in our thinking about “true” greatness?
It wasn’t that long ago when we thought it honorable to consider less of ourselves and more about the common good in our religion and politics. Minnesota had strong leaders like Hubert Humphrey and Arne Carlson who acted thus. President Kennedy famously stated, “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country?” Paul Wellstone proclaimed, “We all do better when we ALL do better!”
From the scriptures, countless prophetic exhortations ask a belligerent people to return to the God-life; “Remember whose you are, why you are here, and where you are bound!” (Ps 78). It feels like we are today’s people astray – wandering in a chaotic desert while paying homage to false idols (wealth, power, influence, winning). There are prophets today crying out in our streets. Like the past, they are rejected as undesirables, saying what is NOT liked. Prophets who don’t look the part because they are the young and some are older, Black, Brown, Native American, Asian. Some are disabled. Others are advocates for climate change, proponents for justice in health care, immigrants, and activists for social equality, peace and structural reforms.
There is an element that seems forgotten in being great again. It’s called sacrifice. Parents know the sacrifice and disruption of their personal freedoms the day their first child is born. Yet greatness demands sacrificing a little freedom to care for others in family, neighbors, community and the people of the world. (For example, is wearing a mask really that big a sacrifice for the health and welfare of others?)
When we decide to lay down our weapons, stop raising our middle fingers in discourse and action, cease bullying with fear and intimidation, we may find room to listen, show regard and respect and even start to collaborate and compromise. We might be able to take opponents out to lunch after the argument is over. Then and only then will we begin a journey back to being great again.
Something we can do for now is to look at our children and neighbors with hearts open and VOTE for the common good and the hope of future generations.