Progressive Views: Words to Live By

by Kevin Henning
for the “Progressive Views” column, Boerne Star, September 25, 2020

Sticky note with the words "Be Kind" written on it.
Image by Lisa Fotios is licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

In Jon Meacham’s “The Soul of America –The Battle for our Better Angels”, he takes us back in history to look at times of crisis in America and how we came together to survive as a nation.  His narrative rings true today.  My love for our great nation makes me believe that we will overcome our current crisis in disunity.  I believe we will persevere and honest differences of opinion and belief will again be a point of civil discussion and pride.  Meacham wrote “In our finest hours…the soul of the country manifests itself in an inclination to open our arms rather than to clench our fists; to look out rather than to turn inward; to accept rather than to reject. In so doing, America has grown ever stronger, confident that the choice of light over dark is the means by which we pursue progress.”  His words ring so true today as do those of Fred Rogers.

I am a big fan of Mr. Rogers. The Tom Hanks wonderful movie “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” followed by the recent PBS special were both very moving.  This guy is the real deal and has offered so  many words to live by.   Here are a few.  “ Our society is much more interested in information than wonder, in noise rather than silence…And I feel that we need a lot more wonder and a lot more silence in our lives.

“We get so wrapped up in numbers in our society. The most important thing is that we are able to be one-to-one, you and I with each other at the moment. If we can be present to the moment with the person that we happen to be with, that’s what’s important.”

And my favorite of all.  “There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.”

The late John Lewis was a remarkable individual who denounced hate at every turn.  He  gave us so many inspiring words.  If you’re not hopeful and optimistic, then you just give up. You have to take the long hard look and just believe that if you’re consistent, you will succeed.”  He told us how to live our lives.  “Be hopeful.  Be optimistic. Never lose that sense of hope.”

Anne Frank’s “The Diary of a Young Girl” is the story of an amazing young person who shared her innermost thoughts and remarkable insights.  She tragically died in a concentration camp but left us some remarkable thoughts.  Here are a few of my favorites:

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

“I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.

“Human greatness does not lie in wealth or power, but in character and goodness.

“In the long run, the sharpest weapon of all is a kind and gentle spirit.”

Living up to these great thoughts is difficult to say the least but there is no reason not to try.  We all have it in us and when I get down or grumpy I think of what Meacham, Rogers, Lewis and Frank tell us.

I want to wholeheartedly thank all our first responders, medical personnel, front line workers and teachers for their selfless work over the past seven months.  Also, we are so fortunate to have professional and dedicated law enforcement in Kendall County.  Thank you Sheriff Auxier and Chief Kohler.  The Kendall County Democratic Party stands with our community  to  honor the women and men who have sacrificed so much.  We must stand strong against the forces that would rob us of our freedom and security, something we should never take for granted.  In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt:  “Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility.” Our nation and the world has been shaken by the impact of COVID-19 and most recently with the loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.  We will come out of this crisis stronger, I truly believe. 

Let me close with one last quote, this from Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”  Shakespeare described her perfectly: “Though she be but little, she is fierce!” (William Shakespeare, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”).  A great woman and a great Justice.  I will miss her so!

God Bless Justice Ginsburg, God Bless our Troops, God Bless our Flag and God Bless America.

Be Kind.

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