June is the time of beginnings and ends. Some people marry and others may graduate. A favorite part of both is the wisdom passed on by officiates or guest speakers.
The New York Times recently published selected excerpts of graduation addresses. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, paraphrased Dr King’s letter from the Birmingham jail, “our society needed to repent not merely for the hateful words of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.” Cook went on to say, “The sidelines are not where you want to live your life.”
These are words that punched my heart, encouraged me to be stronger in my thoughts and to choose action. I chose to act, but even so, I am constrained by my cultural limits including limited tolerance towards differing points of view.
July begins with a bang, celebrating our independence and the heroes and the hard won fight two centuries ago. But now, the celebration is synonymous with picnics, discount sales, barbecue, pool parties. It is wonderful that these activities typically include family. And as such it helps to build our society and family. But I wish we would take our Fourth of July celebration to the next level and continue the tradition of fighting to preserve our independence.
Our society and freedom will only remain healthy and strong so long as every registered voter exercises her privilege. In order to do so meaningfully, all voters need to become educated in a fair and equal manner, understanding all sides of an issue.
Who will be the leader to fight across party lines and create a tradition of voter education each Fourth of July? Imagine a holiday where we pack our picnics to go to a park or to gather with our communications devices and hear arguments on key issues, presented by apolitical persons? I imagine the picnics to follow would include healthy discussions among friends and family.
This idea has a long tail, meaning it will take a few years for the effect to take hold, but will have long lasting effects on our culture. Perhaps even making our political system be less petty and more intellectual and tolerant.
Along with promoting the value of education, the Fourth of July would be synonymous with voter involvement. In this way not only will we be honoring the heroes who fought for us in the revolution, but we will end the “appalling silence of the good people.” Imagine a holiday designed to get everyone of every persuasion off the sidelines and into a healthy discussion and meaningful expression of their views. I cannot imagine a stronger society as we become Fearlessly Confident.