America has always been a creative process—preserving what is good and true; burning away the old to make room for the new, or changing opinions and actions by slow accretion through dialogue, hopefully, or conflict. This weekend we landed a car-sized robot on Mars with the precision of a surgical procedure even while confronted by a citizen gone mad and the tragic loss of lives in an American religious community. When we begin to see differing opinions, ways of life, and religious persuasions as “other” or evil, we forget what American was established to do: unify. While this drama took place, the Olympics put teamsmanship and international, friendly competition in our living rooms. What a dramatic kaleidoscope of events all happening in the big shadow of Super PAC ads that seek to divide us. There is no dialogue between political parties anymore, only acid rebuttles and smear tactics on both sides of the aisle.
Thus the soft landing of Curiosity and the ecstatic faces of Olympians were momentary antidotes to the virulence parading as democracy. Let us remember these words of Abraham Lincoln in his Second Inaugural Address on the eve of the ending of the Civil War:
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.