As this fast unfolding, ugly era of America’s existence becomes more of a dire reality, I find myself searching history for inspiration. For example, in terms of grit and strength, I look at the people of England during the darkest days of the Second World War. This newspaper photo of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London standing tall amidst devastating Nazi bombing raids during the Battle of Britain in 1940 is such an iconic symbol of that national character.
I’m not being hyperbolic when I join with many others in saying that the Trump Administration is shredding the fabric of American democracy and ethical governance. And yes, I am alarmed at what is transpiring before us.
Given my liberal leanings, you might expect me to be saying this. But plenty of traditional conservatives are deeply concerned as well at the conduct of this President and his inner circle. Each new day includes some jaw-dropping development(s). Sometimes it’s about policy. Sometimes it’s about vulgar and raw displays of power and arrogance. Washington D.C. is no stranger to preening narcissism and overreaching power grabs, but we have never seen the likes of this during the past half century…and longer.
For those who are paying close attention with a growing sense of distress, it already feels exhausting. A lot of people are wondering when they’ll burn out.
I’ve used recent posts to suggest that during this time, nurturing our most important communities, pursuing meaningful hobbies and pastimes, and not forgetting other causes and concerns that are dear to us should be part of our bigger picture. I’ve also urged that we strive to understand the age we are living in and the political, social, and economic dynamics driving it.
In addition, we Americans must continually grow and draw upon our resilience and resolve, at least for the next four years. These assaults will keep coming. Not only must we repel them, but also we need to develop our own visions and messages for what we want our nation to be. On that latter note, we should be heartened by stories like this one, reported by CNN’s Doug Criss:
The congregation of the Victoria Islamic Center in Texas was devastated. Its mosque was destroyed over the weekend in a fire, the cause of which is unknown.
Then an act of kindness revived their spirits — the leaders of the local Jewish congregation gave them the keys to their synagogue so they could continue to worship.
The leader of the mosque said he wasn’t surprised by the gesture.
“I never doubted the support that we were going to get” after the fire, Dr. Shahid Hashmi, a surgeon and president of Victoria Islamic Center, told CNN. “We’ve always had a good relationship with the community here.”
Hashmi said Dr. Gary Branfman — a member of Temple B’nai Israel in Victoria, as well as a fellow surgeon and friend — just came by his house and gave him the keys.
In his first Inaugural Address in 1861, on the eve of what would become the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln urged us to embrace “the better angels of our nature.” What happened in Texas earlier this week in the aftermath of tragedy captures that sentiment beautifully.