“A Nation’s Strength”

Well, here we are . . . the elections are over. Whether your candidates have been elected or not, let’s pause for a moment and celebrate the process. Throughout history and throughout the world the peaceful transfer of power through a civilized (yes, civilized) political process is rare indeed. No gunfire, riots, armed conflict or other strife came into play as it has in many nations recently. Even now the spilling of blood continues in what will ultimately be a change of power in Syria. But here in the United States this very expensive, brutal quadrennial choosing of the President saw no casualties. And when it was clearly decided, Mitt Romney gave one of the most inspiring and unifying concession speeches I’ve ever heard. For the sake of the country, I hope legislators on both sides of the aisle heed his words.
We the people are the real strength of this country and we need to insist that our elected officials get busy and do the work that needs to be done. Find common ground, close wide chasms, heal long open wounds. Our nation still has its best years ahead of it and if our just-elected leaders don’t take us there, then we’ll elect new ones in two, four, and six years from now. It is highly unlikely too much irreversible damage can be done in those spans of time. If the pendulum swings too far, we will have a chance to bring it back in a few years. Ya see, that’s the beauty of the process laid out over 200 years ago.
Here’s a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson featured on Poem-a-Day the morning after the election. It reminded me that our country is not a nation in decline as you hear some say from time to time. We have been able to avoid the pitfalls the author spells out and I believe we’ll continue to do so. (by the way, subscribe to Poem-a-Day at http://www.poets.org and get a poem by email each day; I never really got poetry, but this is very accessible and it is good stuff that offers another way and point of view to appreciate the world around us)

“A Nation’s Strength”
by Ralph Waldo Emerson

What makes a nation’s pillars high
And it’s foundations strong?
What makes it mighty to defy
The foes that round it throng?

It is not gold. Its kingdoms grand
Go down in battle shock;
Its shafts are laid on sinking sand,
Not on abiding rock.

Is it the sword? Ask the red dust
Of empires passed away;
The blood has turned their stones to rust,
Their glory to decay.

And is it pride? Ah, that bright crown
Has seemed to nations sweet;
But God has struck its luster down
In ashes at his feet.

Not gold but only men can make
A people great and strong;
Men who for truth and honor’s sake
Stand fast and suffer long.

Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly…
They build a nation’s pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.

If you’re wondering, some of the politicians I supported were elected and some were defeated. I will not tell you which were which. My reticence to divulge my political leanings does not indicate anything beyond the fact that I believe in the secret ballot here in the USA and support that by keeping my vote secret. That is also part of the beauty of the process and system of choosing our government. This does not mean I don’t agree with you or that I did not vote the way you did. I just don’t think it matters. We are all Americans and as Mitt Romney said very late on election night, “At a time like this, we can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people’s work. And we citizens also have to rise to the occasion . . . . This election is over, but our principles endure. I believe that the principles upon which this nation was founded are the only sure guide to a resurgent economy and to renewed greatness.”