Charles Dickens wrote the following over 150 years ago:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
A Tale of Two Cities (1859)
Fifteen years ago terrorists boarded planes and rammed them into the Twin Towers in New York, the Pentagon, and another plane crashed in Pennsylvania. Since that time, America has certainly experienced the worst of times. We have been involved in war almost since the terrorist attacks. We have engaged in other conflicts. We have suffered a recession and been the victim of devastating natural disasters. We have seen a country roiled by injustice and corruption.
Now, as we prepare for a presidential election, we see the culmination of using only the “superlative degree of comparison.” Each political party is at once both the best and the worst. The politicians making up the party are saints and evil. Their policies will either result in the absolute salvation or the utter destruction of the nation.
Many may find it difficult in all of that to find the best of times, or even good times. However, the good times do exist and persist in America. Though some may argue that its light is diminished, it is still a city on a hill. The strength and the good of America is in its people. I have recently had the privilege of getting to know many service members. Their desire to defend America gives hope for its future. This strength is not unique to service members. I have seen it in families in the Midwest and on the West coast. America is not perfect, but it is strong.
As the Civil War wound down, Abraham Lincoln described his vision of how to bind up America’s wounds:”With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.” Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address, 1865
Where have you seen inspiration this week?