Dear America

us-flag-unity-cooperationThe presidency is bigger than the person who occupies the office.

No outside enemy could have ever taken the Unites States by force. Rather, this enemy which is more clever and insidious, is attacking us from within. We are imploding as a country. Look around America, what do you see? It isn’t very pretty out there.

You may or may not have gotten the president that you voted for. You may be hopeful, scared, sad or angry. How long will you remain stuck in the past or fearful of the future? I beg you to consider, maybe for the first time since the election, to put aside any frustrations and actions that are contributing to the unrest, and to begin to see what you can do to restore the country. I am not trying to be naïve. We are still a democracy which means you and me, by our willingness as citizens, have the capacity as citizens to make a difference for the good of our nation. There is much we each can do as individuals and as citizens, to change the current climate and to hunker down and to do what we do best.

People are what makes a nation great. Our true character is tested by how we manage and persevere through our greatest challenges. Presidents and elected officials will come and go, but we the citizens from every race under the sun, are what will determine our greatness as a people. We live in the greatest country on the planet, do we realize how blessed we are? We have such resources and services at our fingertips that other countries can only dream of. Are we grateful? I’ve lived and visited all over this world, I can tell you firsthand that we often take for granted all the prosperity we have available to us. We are greatly blessed. It seems we’ve forgotten that.

Like it or not, this country was founded on religious freedom. One nation under God. We forged, fought for, and sought to build a nation, though varied in its people, to work for the common good. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. We are stronger together, diverse but distinct.

The enemy within has been sowing the seeds of individualism and division for a very long time. These seeds have taken root and like a weed have spread into every aspect of life here.  When “me” trumps “we,” we all lose. We are weaker, more disjointed, self-serving and easily fall prey to those who want to rip us apart piece by piece.  As the saying goes, “How do you eat an elephant in the room? One bite at a time.”

So I beg you to STOP, THINK, and ACT.

Stop being bitter, angry, emotional, and unwilling to move forward. If we are going to get through this and become the great nation we once were, we’ll need to put aside self-interests and become “us-focused.” Stop complaining, being divisive in your speech and writings, and stop intensifying the poisonous “us versus them” attitude.

Think about what part you play individually. There is a story attributed to G.K. Chesterton who answered a query in the Times that asked. “What’s wrong with the world today?” Chesterton responded simply, “Dear Sir, I am.” Each of us needs to own the fact that we too are part of the problem, but the good news is, we can also be part of the solution. Ask yourself where are you sowing the seeds of division and where are you building bridges of unity?

Act in a manner that begins the good work we all need to do. See every single person as an opportunity, an opportunity to practice kindness, patience, generosity, and love. Each person has dignity and is worthy of our attention and our compassion. Yes, even those that seem to deserve it the least: those who don’t think and act like us. If all you can muster is a smile and a greeting, then do that. It will take effort. It will take practice. If that was the one thing everyone did again, we’d begin to see a difference right away. Some people will wonder what you want from them or what you are up to. Smile anyway.

The timeless Scripture passage from Matthew 7:12 (yes it was in the Bible first), “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you,” is the greatest action we can all live by. Every single one of us deserves that.

It’s that simple, and yet that complicated. Doing what is right takes effort, but we are each worth it and this country will be on its way to greatness. What’s wrong with America? I am.

Starting today, in the words of Gandhi, I hope “to be the change I wish to see in the world.” I want to begin to do my small part to heal America. Won’t you join me? Imagine what we can do together.

Barbara Lishko works full time as a Lay Catholic Marriage Minister. She and her husband Mark, an ordained Deacon, have been married for 35 years and are blessed with five young adult children, whose lives grow and expand through marriage and grandchildren.

Through the inspiration of her family, work in the Catholic Church and wacky life experiences her dream of writing was born. She is the recipient of the Diocese of Phoenix St Terese of Lisieux award. Barbara can be reached at blishko_58@yahoo.com