On the day after we celebrated the life and legacy of a great man, the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama, delivered his 7th State of the Union Address. During this speech addressed to the American people, the president did what all presidents do; assessed the literal state of our union, mentioned highlights, and laid out plans and next steps to address our shortcomings.
But this year was a little different.
This year, the president passionately laid out a vision in which all Americans could partake. He cautioned us about the politics of cynicism, and shared with us what could happen if we broke the patterns of gridlock, and stubbornness, and actually worked together for a change.
He talked about a better politics; one that focused on our best qualities and not our worst. One that invests in our neediest – our children, our poor, our veterans – and does not let these folks fall through the cracks. A politics that is open for debate, but debate that reflects our best character, not debate that is simply about proving one another wrong. A politics that is compassionate, and hopeful, and is driven by an authentic and genuine care for your brother or sister.
I encourage you all to foster a sense of service and responsibility, and truly live a life that exemplifies your best qualities. It is easy to get bogged down in debates about liberalism or conservatism, or allow race to divide us, or to become cynical about the direction of our nation. Don’t take the easy route. It’s harder to see the good in every argument, and set aside our differences, and remain hopeful about the state of our union. But it’s necessary for us in order to build a nation that is worthy of its citizens.
“Political differences must be subordinate to human decency.”
I believe this is possible, and I believe we are the ones to do it. During the first month of this new year, let’s be that example by finding new ways to work together, and doing so in a manner that exemplifies the value of service. As Dr. King famously said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?” Let that be the first thing you ask yourself each morning, and go to bed each night with clear evidence of your answer to the question he posed.
Our Cause Speeds On It’s Way,
Director of Social Action