Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Facing the Nation

The day will come when men will recognize woman as his peer, not only at the fireside, but in councils of the nation. Then, and not until then, will there be the perfect comradeship, the ideal union between the sexes that shall result in the highest development of the race —Susan B. Anthony

In the wee hours of this morning, over half of this country’s voters woke to heart break and bewilderment.  Just under half, to vindication and conceit.  What had seemed marked for a historic occasion, instead brought to millions of American’s a dawn of real fear and uncertainty—about their rights to equal treatment, their ability to keep their families together, and the nature of what it means to be an American.  They had to figure out how to explain that the words their children heard spoken by the new President Elect during his campaign were not something to emulate, but would in fact get them expelled from school.  That while you can rise to the highest office in the land degrading women and speaking of them and treating them as merely sexual objects, that is not how women deserve to be treated and it not something women should ever tolerate.  That the proverbial melting pot that is the great American experiment is, for the moment, only for those with backgrounds as diverse as English, Irish, German, and Swedish.      

So, as I say good-bye to an America that eight years ago elected a biracial African-American man on a message of hope, diversity, inclusion, and compassion, I face this nation with renewed vigor to demonstrate to my daughters how a good man behaves.  How a good man treats his wife, his children, his mother, and his female coworkers, friends and neighbors.  How he treats those less fortunate and how he responds in both the face of adversity and loss, and in prosperity and triumph.  I face this new nation, so divided by hate and anger, ignorance and malice, with a call to service.  To help teach those like our new President Elect, that science is not magic or fantasy, but the collected human understanding of the natural world and the threats our magnificent earth faces.  To show that fear of what we don’t understand is not cause to turn away, but an opportunity to grow as individuals and expand the boundaries that hold us back from reaching our full potential as a nation.  To demonstrate that compassion is not weakness and that there is a way to stand up for what you believe in, even to defend yourself against the vilest of enemies, with grace and honor. 

To those young girls and boys who have read my books and feel that the idea of Scarlet Hopewell—a vulnerable, complicated, brave, and valiant young woman—could be the hero that saves the day is in itself a fantasy, I say don’t believe it for a second.  There are so many women out there doing heroic and amazing, brave and extraordinary things each and every day.  No shortage exists of women to look up to in this world of ours, whether you search through history books or even in the ranks of the Senate, House of Representatives, the Supreme Court, the world of literature, of science and medicine, the military, fire and police departments, and the Queens, Chancellors, and Presidents of other democratic nations.  Change is often gradual, even when it is right and just.  Even when it’s shameful that it has to exist at all.  But there is a young woman out there right now—I don’t know what she looks like, what she likes to read, where she goes to school, or what fuels her inner drive—but she’s out there.  And one day, in the near future, she is going to stand in front of the U.S. Capitol Building and swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.  And she is going to be one of those heroes.  Not a fantasy, but the very real leader of the most powerful country on the face of the earth.

We must find it in our hearts to forgive, so that we may heal.  And so I ask those whom I’ve failed in my life, whom I’ve disappointed, and for whom I have fallen short, for your forgiveness.  I have made many mistakes in my life, and like the President Elect, done things for which I am ashamed.  But I will not let that become a pattern of behavior.  I will strive each day to become a better man, a better citizen, and most importantly, a better human being.  I hope against hope that our President Elect vows to do the same.  
Ronald Reagan once said that he knew in his heart that man is good.  “That what is right will always eventually triumph.  And there’s purpose and worth to each and every life.”  Find that goodness in your hearts, minds and souls.  Go out do great and wonderful things.  Do small and kind things.  And never give up fighting for what you believe in, with an open mind, keen ears, and wide, searching eyes.  I’ll leave you with my favorite quote. 
Thank you for reading.

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat—Theodore Roosevelt

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