I loved it for its decency; for its faith in the wisdom, justice and goodness of its people. I loved it because it was not just a place, but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. – John McCain, September 4, 2008
The late Senator and constant patriot John McCain was talking about America, but as I read the words on the event of his passing, I was thinking also of our world.
Our world is grand. And I mean that through the range of its dozen or so meanings: large and impressive in size, scope, extent; magnificent, splendid; rich and sumptuous; illustrious, outstanding; inclusive, complete…
Over the years on this page, I have often written about the world through our place in it: our music and culture, our literature and faith, the familiar places in our neighborhoods and the dear people on our porches. And PORTICO has written about individual and family, community and congregation, embracing and exploring the world in microcosm, using the everyday and unique to illustrate and explain this ineffable home of ours.
These days I have been thinking of the world in toto, concerned not so much about how we fit into it, but how we shape it, how the singular things we do and say and hope for change it, and what we are making of it. Each year, this Students Issue brings forward those of this generation who will change this world. And each year their hopes and wishes, their grand designs and specific futures, always speak to me: their faith, their consideration, their awareness. They are our best selves; we were all there, but have wrapped, unconsciously or compulsory, those selves with layers of life and compromise and, well, certain realities.
These are not days of dreams, looking up through gentle waves at a bright blue sky, but times of resolution. We, all of us, grew up with notions and aspirations, knowing that application and challenge and devotion would carry us forward and upward, a destiny manifested in perhaps not the best place, but a place better, and the foundation for the next better place. We must remember and recall confidence and purpose, define expectancies and obligation, seek out those among us, people of inspiration and genius and deed, leaders and artists and neighbors, who have realized the touchstones, of community and curiosity and compassion, by which nations and neighborhoods have always prospered.
These are days of deliberation and commitment: times that demand our attention and our action; moments that will define us, perhaps even save us, and will certainly change us. As we look out and upon our civilization we must remember the respect that has supported its inherent humanity, civility that has been missing from our discourse, from our embrace of environment, from our expectations and from the most certain measures of our indomitable faith, of our golden rules and of our best selves.
Just as we are family and friend and neighbor, we are citizen; we are the wellspring; and we must remember to seek more for each other, expect more from each other and those leaders we choose, endeavor more in all things. And we must all…like the students, here and within us…realize that the best of all possible worlds is ours to determine.