What is it about President Trump that most worries so many Americans? Obviously, any list would be thought-provoking and diverse (two words that don’t usually come to mind when writing about this administration). Much of the worry is rightfully focused on his actions, but I would submit that there is something much more fundamental at play. It is that–in word and deed–he is not in keeping with the standards of human decency and civility; not in keeping with the American spirit of democratic dialogue, and not in keeping with the personal standards we expect of our fellow citizens, let alone a President. I admit that these thoughts are not unique to me, but they bear repeating.
With this in mind, I have increasingly shared writings here from the past, quotes from speeches, poetry, letters and the like that speak to me. I have been heartened by how many of you find these to be a nice balance to what one finds elsewhere on social media. My worries that these may strike some as the ramblings of an old newsman seem largely unfounded. So here is another one.
It has been attributed to William Penn, the old Quaker who played such a key role in the founding of what became the United States of America. (Among many other accomplishments, he created what we now know as the state of Pennsylvania which bears his name.) But closer research online seems to lead to another Quaker author, Stephen Grellet. Regardless, the quote still is resonant.
“I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness or abilities that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
Kindness, empathy, service, the determination to leave this country and world a better place, these must be the animating instincts that drive our nation, our leaders, and all of us. There is a deep deficit of this spirit in the White House. But we cannot allow ourselves to give up on these basic standards of humanity.