Saturday, December 12, 2009

Change -- Revisited

The note below was another Letter to the Editor; I guess writing those sometimes makes me feel better, even if no one reads them. I re-read this one, on "change", this morning. And it leaves me kind of sad.

I had some hopes, back then, that change would really come to America. That we, all together, would be able to talk and understand each other, "to see the true hearts of Americans". Thus far, I haven't seen it.

During my work career, I negotiated many agreements between companies which had vastly different goals, coming from vastly different countries and cultures. Yet we were able to sit down, talk, look at facts and try to understand each others' interpretations of those facts -- and yes, sometimes realize that we were wrong. We agreed on the many key points we had in common, and compromised -- with neither giving too much -- and points we "agreed to disagree" on. It seems Americans as a whole can't negotiate in the same manner. Sad.

America reminds me of the many Christian churches. The vast majority of what they believe, they believe in common. Yet they will choose to point out their differences, and talk about nothing else. Fighting amongst themselves, there are some members who would choose to fight to the death, as if by killing others they will come to believe the same. They history of religious martyrs, past and present, says that will not happen. Why can't they see these facts? Why can't Americans see the facts about what they believe, and look at and celebrate so much of what they have in common? I don't know. Perhaps like some the religious zealots, some need to die before they might try to understand.

But regardless of the fact that there appears to be no progress during this past year, I have hope. I don't accept the word "never". :-)

Orig. 12/11/08

I know this letter is too long for publication in your Letters To The Editor. I write it, however, with some hope that you may be able to include the spirit of these thoughts in words you might publish, because I believe they need to be heard.
I write these words because many think a difference, “Change”, is now coming to America, to their lives. I pray for them.

In the play My Fair Lady, two gentlemen attempt to turn Eliza Doolittle, a street person, into a lady. They find, however, that training her and making her physically appear as a lady did not make her one. She became a lady when she believed in her heart that she was a lady. In truth, she always was a lady, a person with inherent dignity and value, regardless of how she dressed or how people treated her. She just had to discover this, and accept it. Then she could happily live this way.

This “New” year, America has chosen to make a “Change”. I wonder how well it will be accomplished. Will it be a changing of appearances, like Eliza Doolittle’s first efforts, or will it truly be a changing or opening of hearts. I have always believed in the inherent greatness and goodness of America and its people. There are some, however, who thought my religion, my race, or my political party resulted in me not fully embracing this fact. They couldn’t see my heart. Perhaps, it is better said that they “wouldn’t”. They wouldn’t see past my exterior presentation, and when they saw my religion or my race or my political party they believed they knew me, and what I thought, and who I am. Even if I were truly changing my heart on some matter of great importance, they wouldn’t see it. They WOULDN’T. They would choose to see me as my exterior trappings, as if no person of my religion or race or party could be a “true” American.

“Change” has been elected in America, and it is coming. Will it merely be a change of race? Will it merely be a change of party? Will it merely be a change of “religion”? What will we do; what will we see; how will we act? Will we be able to see the true hearts of Americans, or only how we perceive they “look”? Is that really “Change”?

So how will we know if “Change” has really come to America? Well, looking at the obvious first, it will come when we are not surprised that a black man is elected president. Nor a Muslim man, nor a Mexican or Asian man – or woman. This is America! I was not surprised at this election’s outcome, but I was somewhat surprised that so many exclaimed “they thought this would never happen”. I didn’t understand the hearts of those who felt this way, and they didn’t understand mine. They didn’t believe in the inherent greatness and goodness of the American people. They thought race or religion or party made things possible, not what is right. How will we know when “Change” has really come to America: when Catholics don’t only vote for Catholics, when Republicans don’t only vote for Republicans, when blacks don’t only vote for blacks – but when all Americans vote for the best person for the job, the best person for America, and all its people.

And once elected, representatives will not act as if “I’m right, and you’re wrong” because you are a Republican, because you are a Muslim, because you are black. Real “Change” will come to America when representatives sit down and discuss issues, recognizing that all people have some unique abilities AND WISDOM which can contribute to the benefit of ALL the American people. When they recognize, together, that there are some inherent facts on which they can agree – a starting point for real communication. They really believe that “We hold these truths to be self-evident …”.

I don’t know that I believe that real “Change” is coming to America. Perhaps it is just a change of party, or race, or “religion”. Will it really be a change of heart of all Americans --- together? Or will it merely be a change of America’s “clothes”? I don’t know.

But it is a start. And like Eliza Doolittle, only we can change our hearts and realize that we already ARE true Americans, in greatness and goodness, and then we can truly act like it. Together.

I will pray for all of us. It is a start.

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