The sport of basketball lost a legend. But that is not keeping me up. Instead, I am trying to imagine what it would be like tonight for Kobe Bryant’s widow, who lost a husband and a 13 year-old daughter at the same time. It feels like an impossible burden to bear.
But something similar once happened to Joe Biden. He lost his wife and baby daughter in a car crash in 1972. One of his two sons that survived the crash then died of a brain tumor. Lincoln lost two of his four sons, one while in office. His wife and our country then lost him.
People can be resilient, and so can our country. But I am feeling for our country tonight.
Never before have I felt the republic to be in such danger. We are in the middle of an impeachment trial that may end with no witnesses or documents. John Bolton, the former National Security Advisor with first-hand experience of what happened, is willing to testify.
But it is by no means a certainty that he will. He will have his say eventually because he has written a book. But that does not mean he will testify in the trial. Both Democrats and Republicans are saying they do not know what he will say. I think they do. And that is why he may never get to say it in the trial, unless people of moral courage stand up and do the right thing. Otherwise, we will be that much closer to losing our republic.
I am an optimist at heart. For the most part, I see the presidency of Donald Trump as something that was necessary to happen. Trump is an apocalyptic president in the original sense of the word: a revelation or unveiling. His presidency is allowing us to see the country as it really is. The United States has an enormous shadow it does not acknowledge. From slavery to the genocide of Native America, to the dropping of atomic bombs on civilian populations in Japan, we do not see what we have done.
We also do not see the true origin of some of our best ideals. The concepts of liberty and egalitarian justice were learned from Native American societies, not invented by our founding fathers. The very concept of forming a union was learned from Native America. So were many of the principles of decorum that were adopted in the Congress, distinguishing us from our mother country, where to this day people yell and scream on the floor of the British Commons.
But somewhere in the last 30 years, we have lost respect for each other. Newt Gingrich, whose favorite book is Chimpanzee Politics, contributed to the breakdown. Mitch McConnell, when he denied Merrick Garland even the pretense of hearings, brought us closer to the brink. There is not as much difference between a republic and a fascist government as people might think. They both depend upon strength in numbers. They both depend upon unity. The difference is that a republic is based in unity in diversity, and a fascist government is unity of sameness.
We need individual conscience now. We need all people who understand what is at stake to stand up for the right thing. Civility, respect, honesty, and fairness is a start. But most of all we need people to stand up for the environment. We need to rethink monocultural farming that destroys the topsoil. We need to stand up for the plants that deserve better, and for all the animals, rivers, lakes, and oceans that are under attack. We need to remember how to love the natural world in all its magnificent diversity. For it is then that we may remember how to love each other. And that is the only thing that will save us. As Martin Luther King said, “Hate is too big a burden to bear.” We must choose love. I pray for everyone out there who has suffered loss in their own lifetime. I pray that you have the resilience to carry on. And I pray for our country. May We, the People find our moral courage and insist our politicians do the same.