These are dark days in our nation. Over 107,000 Americans have died from Covid-19. Unemployment is soaring. Many small and large businesses are struggling during the pandemic and states have been …
These are dark days in our nation. Over 107,000 Americans have died from Covid-19. Unemployment is soaring. Many small and large businesses are struggling during the pandemic and states have been left to their own devices to determine how best to protect their citizens.
Add to this the brutal murder of George Floyd, captured on cellphone camera, and the situation becomes intolerable. Hundreds of thousands of people across the globe are now marching to show their solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
These United States don't feel very united these days. And it's little wonder. The man in charge has been doing all he can to divide us each and every day of his Presidency. The America we are living in no longer seems a bright shining city on a hill, but rather a dark series of warring encampments.
During these unsettling times, we long for a leader to steady us, to guide us, to bring us together.
Thank goodness our former Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Jimmy Carter have seen the need to address us. Bush's powerful statement of June 2 begins, “Laura and I are anguished by the brutal suffocation of George Floyd and disturbed by the injustice and fear that suffocate our country. Yet we have resisted the urge to speak out, because this is not the time for us to lecture. It is time for us to listen. It is time for America to examine our tragic failures - and as we do, we will also see some of our redeeming strengths.”
He continues, “It remains a shocking failure that many African Americans, especially young African American men, are harassed and threatened in their own country. It is a strength when protesters, protected by responsible law enforcement, march for a better future. This tragedy — in a long series of similar tragedies — raises a long overdue question: How do we end systemic racism in our society? The only way to see ourselves in a true light is to listen to the voices of so many who are hurting and grieving. Those who set out to silence those voices do not understand the meaning of America — or how it becomes a better place.”
Jimmy Carter, a most noble elder statesman, responded as well. “As a white male of the South, I know all too well the impact of segregation and injustice to African Americans. As a politician, I felt a responsibility to bring equity to my state and our country. In my 1971 inaugural address as Georgia's governor, I said: “The time for racial discrimination is over.” With great sorrow and disappointment, I repeat those words today, nearly five decades later. Dehumanizing people debases us all; humanity is beautifully and almost infinitely diverse. The bonds of our common humanity must overcome the divisiveness of our fears and prejudices.
We need a government as good as its people, and we are better than this.”
In an essay released online, Barack Obama wrote, “I recognize that these past few months have been hard and dispiriting — that the fear, sorrow, uncertainty, and hardship of a pandemic have been compounded by tragic reminders that prejudice and inequality still shape so much of American life. But watching the heightened activism of young people in recent weeks, of every race and every station, makes me hopeful. If, going forward, we can channel our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action, then this moment can be a real turning point in our nation's long journey to live up to our highest ideals. Let's get to work.”
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