It seems amazing to me that it has been less than a week since the attack on the Capitol. Less than a week for us to see the raw ugliness that comes from spewing lies and hatred over years, perhaps even decades. Less than a week for many of us to come to grips with just how much is wrong with our political process and with a society that lives with racism every day.
And it has been less than a week for many of us to re-group and re-imagine a world different than the one we see. So many of us have already reached out to the ones we love to let them know that we are stronger than this. Many more, across our country, are realizing that we must act on what we value. While the news deepens in its coverage of what went wrong, other news emerges about what is still right.
What is still right? It is still right that most of us abhor violence and hatred. Most of us believe in facts not fantasies. Most of us still believe in our democracy which, for all its faults, is still functioning. Not ideally, not perfectly, but functioning well enough for our votes to be counted and our government to be responsive.
I have always been a pragmatist. Idealism, while often inspiring, is not how change happens. Change happens when we adapt to circumstances and hold out for the best we can. Sometimes the best is only the least-worst outcome, but that is a start. We can’t build a new country, a new religion or a new age on the perfect. And no amount of free speech will help people who are diametrically opposed to act together. All change requires compromise; not a compromise that leaves everyone unhappy, but a compromise that allows the good to grow.
Idealism alone does not change the world. It is a start but not the end of what we can become. It is the aspiration to which we continually strive. Beware of the ideal, the perfect, the saint or the leader who thinks he or she has the ultimate answer. Human beings are flawed. Let’s leave ourselves enough room to recognize our flaws and still find a way forward. Never let the perfect become the enemy of the good.
Stay strong my friends,