Kennon and I are on our first road trip in the past 13 months——an eight hour journey to the North Carolina coast to spend a few days with our youngest daughter. She and we are fully vaccinated and the three of us enjoyed family time, daily walks in ocean breezes, warm sun, and a couple of great outdoor meals at restaurants.
From there the two of us drove three hours to Myrtle Beach SC where I was enrolled in a couple of golf lessons… again, enjoying the ocean, sun and fish tacos in outdoor restaurants. We stayed in a hotel that requires social distancing measures: No more than two people in an elevator, no room cleaning service unless requested and masks required in all public places. For a guy addicted to traveling, the last few days have reignited my hunger for the road, and there are four more journeys that I hope to move from day dreams to reality.
The Art of Politics
I have long believed that the art of politics means holding true to my fundamental beliefs, while at the same time recognizing that there are other people who are equally well meaning who reach different conclusions. Experience has taught me that these people are not necessarily opponents, but through conversation can become co-conspirators in building a better, more comprehensive public policy.
However, reading a biography of Fredrick Douglas I came across this thought from William Lloyd Garrison, founder of The Liberator, an 1830-era abolitionist newspaper: “On this subject (the abolition of slavery) I do not want to think, to speak, or to write with moderation. No! No!” So, I wonder, what are those issues about which I will not think, speak or write with moderation. Is there a time for me to say: “No! No!”?
Where is my “No! No!” line in the sand? There are many public policy issues that I care deeply about, most of which have been iterated and reiterated in the pages of this blog. Do I always rule out any hope of compromise? No, in most cases there is room to engage competing views in search of a consensus. But there are three issues on which there is no room within me for compromise: the insidious and rampant racism that has a death-grip on my country; the world-threatening destruction of climate change; and, the gross inequality that deprives children born to parents in poverty of the nutrition, medical care and early education they need to become successful adults. Each of these topics has the potential to send our nation into a never-ending spiral unless there are quick, comprehensive and thoughtful actions.
There are many other national problems on my mind, including gun control; continued improvement in and universal access to first-rate healthcare; gender equality in pay, and in all levels of opportunity in our culture; a humane immigration policy; and a common-good based politics. Each of these issues is also critically important, but recent evidence shows that there are people with competing views who are willing to enter conversation and find common ground.
Because We Are Leaders
A common Republican complaint about Biden’s climate agenda: “Why should we sacrifice when China’s coal will overwhelm all of America’s commitments to action?” Because we are leaders and that is what leaders do.
Wisdom to Ponder on a Long Walk
The following was part of a prayer offered at the anniversary of Archbishop Oscar Romero’s death: “It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view…We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete. We plant seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities. We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders…We are prophets of a future not our own.”
Then, there is this from the Talmud: “Don’t be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Just do justice…now! Love mercy…now! Walk humbly, now! You are not obligated to complete the task, but neither are you free to abandon it.”
And this from Evelyn Underhill, a woman whose mystical writing has been a lamp in the dark corners of my mind: “Accept leadership where you find it and give leadership if you feel the impulse and the strength. Do not wait for some grand opportunity, and whilst you are waiting stiffen in the wrong shape. The grand opportunity may not be for us, but for the generation whose path we now prepare.”
Bill Jamieson’s career has included leadership positions in business, government, and education. He was also an ordained deacon in the Episcopal Church and his ministry centered around advocacy for low-income families and children.