I’m reading Caste: The Origins of our Discontents and I’m haunted.
As an Indian American (who’s studied and worked with the poorest of the poor in India); as a kid in South Jersey who was pulled into and confronted Nazi culture directly and have continued to study it since; and as…an American acutely aware that were still inside or one lifetime removed from Black people having civil rights …
America is America. I love her always. I feel patriotism always. My parents, my wife, my family, all love me because of me and in spite of me. They don’t love all I do, or all of how I do it. They do always love me. True love means loving the being and the entity, and separating those from the actions.
I love America. I also acknowledge that we’re a young nation. It’s easy to forget that our actual time in the spotlight has been shorter than the average life expectancy of our people.
We’re young. And we’re all the things that youth brings with it. Confidence and energy. Arrogance and recklessness. The biggest thing that youth gives us is the energy to make mistakes, and the strength and confidence to recover and learn from those mistakes.
We’ve made lots of them. Look at our poverty. Look at our education system. Look at our wealth gap. Look at our infrastructure. Look at the way we (sometimes, not often, not always, just sometimes) treat each other. Today is not our forever. Today is not our destiny. Today is merely, today. The only thing today is for sure, is a byproduct of yesterday.
I know what America means to me. It means every single day I stand on the shoulders of the hundreds of millions of people who came before me and sewed together some piece of this fabric. I know America means to me that I am not welcome in some parts of this country implicitly, and I know in others explicitly. I am not young anymore. I also have my own experience and perspective. I know I’m welcome in more places today than I would have been 43 years ago when I was born. And I know my son and daughter are welcome in more places than I was at their age. It’s not perfect. Neither am I. It’s getting better.
Which is more than I can sometimes say for myself. If peopled judged me for the way I acted in my youth (hell, even the way I acted a month ago), I’d be alone I’m sure.
I won’t judge all of America on some of the actions of Today.
In the end, I love all of America, but… I know what America means to me. It means the power to choose to be like TI. Happy 4th of July. There’s a new kind of independence we need to fight for. TI’s got it going on IMHO. And I applaud this vision, very specifically. Very explicitly. I don’t applaud his public drunkenness, how he treated Tiny, or none of that. But nobody’s perfect.
I can separate action from actor, and maybe today, I need to do more of that to keep moving forward. If there is a fight in our world today it is the fight for meaning. All that we rail against is anchored in our search and desire for meaning. I love America.
#iamgrateful and #iamthankful for America. All of it. I’m not feeling less patriotic, I’m feeling more. Because love is objective and independent and from the inside out. True love exists independent of reciprocation.(And let me be clear, I feel super loved back, America.)
Politics is not a zero sum game. In the private sector, it often is. One company’s gains come at another’s losses. There are market sizes and there are market shares. If we treat our politics and the role of the public sector like we do that of the private sector, we will fail. At all of our responsibilities. That’s why in the private sector it really is Android vs iOS. Ford vs Chrysler. Taco Bell vs the World. Because the private sector can make choices about who it serves. The public. The public sector. Our country. Can’t. We have to find ways to serve everyone. To make sure everyone is served. We also have to stop treating our politics like our sports. Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter isn’t Packers vs Falcons. For one to win the other doesn’t have to lose. I can believe, at the same time, that white middle class workers in the rust belt have suffered recently and that inner city Americans have suffered at the hands of failed education investments. I am capable of complex thinking and can hold more than one polarizing, absolutist thought in my head at one time. #Iamgrateful and #Iamthankful that there are three sectors driving America forward. If the public sector is going to step back from prioritizing civil rights, environmentalism, and health care–I know I am alive at a time when the private sector is being judged at tighter 3BL standards than ever before, and one where some of the best innovations are being driven by the nonprofit sector. Government has its checks and balances. That’s one third of what drives us forward. Thanks to everyone who matched yesterday. I cleaned a garage. But I start marching for my friends and family today. Trump is my President. I say it. Even when many of the people asking me to say it never had the decency to say it from 2008-2016. I say it. I acknowledge it. I wish him well and I do believe that in some of the area he is prioritizing, we will see great things happen that other Presidents never had the guts to take on (infrastructure is for EVERY American.) And I will also bring it. Game on folks. You energized? Because the best thing that came out of this election for the people who share my values is a much needed dose of humility followed by inspiration. As opposed to arrogance and condescension followed by apathy. Won’t happen again. Amirite?
If America is my country. Donald Trump is my President. And that makes this the inaugural address by my new President. #Iamgrateful and #Iamthankful for NPR and how they walk through the speech, step-by-step. It’s honest and objective. Look at the first piece of analysis on Trump’s opening lines: “Trump ran on a nostalgic slogan of “Make America Great Again.” But it was never clear what, precisely, that meant. By many basic measures and statistics, the country is better off than eight years ago. The country was on the precipice of a potential Great Depression and more than 100,000 troops were overseas, entangled in two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, the economy has improved; the unemployment rate is below 5 percent. And the number of troops in conflict is drastically reduced. There has, however, been some permanent damage to some after the recession — some have had to take jobs for less money and struggled to retrain for new careers. Many retirement plans were decimated. And the red tape and cost to some for Obamacare caused a backlash against President Obama and his party.” If you accept the first half of this analysis, you have to accept the second. If you accept the second half of this analysis, you have to accept the first. It’s how we’ll heal together.
How do you win and lose at the same time? When the rules you govern and evaluate by are not the rules decisions are made by. Obama is a great man. He was a President I love (was, because it’s 1214am and times they have a changed.) But he will only be a great President (impactful) of we learn from what he did as well as from where he didn’t (wouldn’t, couldn’t.)
#Iamgrateful and #Iamthankful for #44. He crystallized some very clear perspectives I have on the world. He advanced us in so many ways that matter to me (if not you.) And he also left us clearly with so many steps still to take. Time will tell when (not if) we have healed enough as a country to absorb that next round of steps. Permanently.