Last night I went to Summer’s End. This morning I watched the funeral of Senator John McCain. Both, though quite different, speak to the importance of community, spirit and hope. I have waited more than six weeks to submit this simply because my intent is to speak to those things often unspoken. Unspoken yet felt. Unspoken, but not forgotten. Unspoken, yet waiting to be heard in the deeds that we do and stand for. Hopefully perspective can lend credence to intent. Time can do such things.

We have had many gifts bestowed upon us and that has earned each the gift/burden of responsibility. That responsibility includes taking care of our neighbors. With an election around the corner let us consider how best to do this. Maybe a poem might help.

Who Will Lead the Way?

Who will call for hope

Who will call for dreams

Some still call for distance

At least that’s how it seems

Who will cross the aisle

Who will extend a hand

Some still fear those different

Who want to share this land

The road can offer trials

Which might test our day

When we work in harmony

Possibility becomes the way

Who will share a vision

Who will share a smile

Are we really all so different

Every woman, man and child

Who here will listen

Who here will try to see

That we’re alone together

From sea to shining sea

The road can offer trials

That might test our day

When we work in harmony

Possibility becomes the way

In a few short days, Americans all across the land will exercise their gift to vote. Choosing who will lead us is an enormous responsibility. The poem Who Will Lead the Way? is simply a call for unity, hope and possibility. It is also a call for fairness, understanding and standing up for what is good for all. Hording resources, abusing power, scapegoating and shutting ourselves off from connecting with neighbors, is a prescription for failure. More emphasis needs to be placed on what we are for, rather than looking at ways to bring people and institutions down.

While the time we live in might be fraught with challenges, meeting these seem do-able when working together. So, let’s continue to challenge each other and advocate for what we believe is best. In doing this let us also remember that we are all neighbors. America is often referred to as an idea. Believing that this idea offers perpetual opportunity is something to cherish. Abraham Lincoln asserted, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Great leaders remind us of this. Great leaders bring people together. Let’s let love lead the way. See you soon.

P.S. Much has changed in the last six weeks. Much more needs to change if we are to heal the many divisions our communities are experiencing.

A frequent contributor to these pages, Robert Houghtaling is director of the East Greenwich Drug Program.


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