In today’s culture of negativity, hyper-partisanship, and sensationalized headlines, it is easy to become cynical about the state of our society. Amidst a daily onslaught of pessimism from many forms of media, those who seek to be leaders – whether in their family, workplace, or community – would do well to tune out those brash voices and maintain a positive outlook.
Regrettably, so much of the contemporary political narrative does not follow this counsel. Instead of focusing on what good we can do this day, as Benjamin Franklin nobly suggested, some seem to believe we can address today’s challenges by blaming leaders of the distant past, distorting history, or eradicating what little memory remains of the good others sought to do in their time.
A great deal of this process seems designed to stir up discontent about things most of us never realized were supposed to make us angry, like standing for our National Anthem, displaying an historical flag, or even having memorials in town squares across America to remember those who sacrificed their lives in time of war. How unfortunate it is that long-standing, unifying manifestations of healthy patriotism have been suddenly twisted into grotesque emblems of oppression, racism, and division in the country that, more than any other in human history, has opened doors to freedom and advanced peace and prosperity at home and abroad.
The rational person has to question the motives of those laboring to reopen past shortcomings – and the United States, like all countries, has had its fair share – unless their purpose is to undermine our Nation’s already strained unity even further.
Here’s the reality. The world has enough problems without chronic malcontents creating new ones out of thin air or dredging up fights resolved – in some cases in blood – by previous generations. Scripture tells us “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled” (Titus 1:15).
In other words, those who seek to find the malignant in everything will find what they are looking for, even if it isn’t there. And those who endeavor to find the best in others (or in society generally) will find the good. Not one person today is helped by removing an old statue, further erasing a history too many have already forgotten – including reminders of our past societal sins – or contriving a controversy out of a symbol or song that has long unified a diverse people.
As we navigate our modern environment of latter day populism, curiously (or perhaps predictably) rampant during such prosperous times as these in which we are blessed to live, let us endeavor to foster an upbeat attitude. Even in the face of so much vitriol, it is possible to remain hopeful that working together, rather than at odds with one another, we may continue to build the “more perfect Union” our Founders envisioned.
Hey, look! The sun came up this morning over the greatest country on earth. That’s enough for me to be grateful. How about you?