Things I think about.

A way forward.

As I am inclined to do at times, I cogitate about the state of our union and our place in the world. This week two incidents compelled me to think about where we are as a nation:

The tragedy of a terrible plane crash in a soybean field in Mississippi that killed sixteen Marines.

A few hours later, the triumph of a dramatic rescue of nine swimmers in the Gulf of Mexico.

Two seemingly unrelated incidents.

Until you take a closer look at what they had in common: human beings bound together to reach a goal, the former the security of our country, the latter the safety of nine floundering swimmers.

We will never know what those final moments were like for the brave men who died in the crash. But I’m pretty sure the strong bond forged by their shared humanity, their common dedication to the Corps and our country, a bond that transcended race, religion, sexual orientation, and political persuasion, coalesced into a ferocious attempt to save each other and the aircraft.

Semper Fi to the end.

My heartfelt condolences go to the families, friends fellow Marines and all members of the Armed Services.
And to our country for the loss of these brave soldiers who paid the ultimate price to help protect our country.

A couple hours later, another potential tragedy was averted by that same bond we all share: our humanity. While nine swimmers, a family, and friends who tried to help them, waved and yelled frantically for help to fellow sunbathers, something on shore began to take shape, led by a brave couple who used their ingenuity to form a human chain to reach and rescue the distressed swimmers.

One by one, the beachgoers, strangers in general, joined hands. Pretty sure no one looked at the color of the skin of the next in line, didn’t ask what religion they practiced, didn’t ask who they voted for or what party they were affiliated with, didn’t ask about their sexual orientation, didn’t ask about any of the issues that so divide our country.

They joined together as human beings to save other members of the species. A singular goal that united a diverse collection of men and women.

All nine of the swimmers were rescued and survived, some attended to by medical personnel. With a collective sigh of relief, the human chain disbanded buoyed by the eternal gratitude of the rescued and a gratification few of us will ever feel: saving another person’s life.

They went on their respective ways and the brief respite from the divisiveness that permeates society quietly ended. They returned to their “normal”, complete with whatever views and prejudices they were able to briefly suspend in a time of crisis. Perhaps some views were mellowed by the realization of the magnitude of their accomplishment.

It was an emotional roller coaster for me that day, from despair to hope, from death to life, all in a matter of a few hours.

As I reflect on these incidents, I’m struck by another attribute they share: a clear demonstration of who we are as Americans. From “no soldier left behind” to “all lives matter,” we have guided the world with our principles of compassion, empathy and our unwavering belief in the foundation of our Declaration Of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

These noble words set us on a course that established us as worldwide leaders, a highly respected nation, admired for its spirit of generosity, its defense, and the pursuit of human rights, its leadership on addressing issues affecting mankind, including the climate and nuclear proliferation. We became a beacon of hope for those who aspired to freedom and a better life.

Now that beacon is in danger of fading to darkness — unless we do something now.

We are all to blame.

We, the people, our President, Senators, Congressmen and women, state governors and the judicial branch all need to draw a lesson from and inform our behavior from these two incidents. The lesson is simply this: if we respect human lives of all kinds, if we bond together, if we join hands without prejudice and if we focus on our critical goals, we have an exponentially better chance of achieving them.

We can’t just reach across the aisle, we need to eliminate the aisle whether it’s between the rows of Congress or our neighbor’s walkway. We need to start by expressing our respect for each other’s view, no matter how disparate they may appear. We must leave personalities, ours and those of people in power, out of our thinking, instead focusing on the broader issues we are all dealing with.

We need a discourse that starts by first agreeing on a goal, and then agreeing to disagree while we travel the bumpy road to common ground.

Give and take. Walk back from the extremes.

We need those in the middle to reach out to the left and to the right. We need to join hands as the heroes in the Gulf of Mexico did and keep moving until we reach our goal.

As we have sadly learned, we won’t always succeed at reaching our goal, but we must keep trying, for our sake and to honor those Marines who died in pursuing their goal to save our country from our enemies, no matter where they reside, no matter how difficult the task.

Our collective goal can be no less.

And so, I am pledging to cease and desist my commentary on the President and the personalities of his administration and will instead limit my remarks to the issues, stating my views, and when I can, views on where I see a possible compromise position.

I invite you to pledge and engage.

Join hands with me on Facebook.

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