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May 18, 2019 10:20AM
Dan Rather Yesterday at 7:47 AM
It is a fact of a long life, one lived through eventful times, that I have seen a lot. And yet the nature of life is that almost inevitably it is the contemporary that is in most vivid focus. So it is now. And the crises of the present loom seemingly without precedent.
One must be worried, deeply worried, about the attacks on our democratic institutions, by the needless and manufactured emergencies, the divisiveness, the stoking of combustible religious and ethnic animosities, the false sense of victimhood, the lies, the corruption, all of it. Each news alert it seems brings a new low, a new threat, a new debasement of what we thought was possible.
I have shared here before that I am an optimist by nature and by experience, that I have hope for this nation. And I feel it timely to reiterate that once more. I say this without complete confidence that our better angels will prevail. But I believe that is the far more likely outcome, and not just because to acknowledge the opposite is too horrible to contemplate.
I don't know how many laps of the track I have left, but I find myself thinking back a lot. There are the personal memories, thankfully far more happy than sad. But the historical events that tend to crowd my consciousness these days are inevitably other moments of crises.
There is the Great Depression, families on the brink of starvation, the indignity of no work to be found. And Pearl Harbor, very distant but indelibly marked, my parents' faces and hushed words, the shadow over our neighborhood with the coming war. I have gone on to see many wars up close, none quite like Vietnam where men even younger than my then-young-self lost their lives and limbs and hope in a jungle hell, sent by a government of lies. I remember the assassinations of '63 and '68, the protests, the despair, the divide. I remember seeing the true scale of crimes come into focus with President Nixon, and the existential anxiety, everpresent, like the world could end with atomic flashes launched by even a mistaken push of a button. Of course the horror of 9/11 and the wars that followed are never far from my mind. And so is the divide of wealth and race, brought into stark relief through the prism of death during Hurricane Katrina. And so much more.
I do not relate these events to rank our crises or even to try to put our current moment into a broader context. I repeat them mostly to myself to try to understand why and how we as a nation endured, even at great cost.
I do not take the damage occurring today lightly. Real people are suffering in dire and irrevocable ways. And that is set against a backdrop of a legitimate fear that our political system is so wrecked that even a popular vote may not be enough to rescue us from this morass.
But I also believe that we have a spirit in this country to adapt to stress and strain and change. We are remarkably resilient, or at least have been. And I believe we still are. I fervently do. I hear it in your voices and see it in the energy of those who will not give in or give up. We cannot minimize what we face. But we cannot believe that it is insurmountable.
When I cast back in my memories for inspiration, I can't help but think of Dr. Martin Luther King. More than any historical figure I have met, I wonder what he would say to us in this time of need. I remember the early days of his campaigns, when there were more failures than successes, when it seemed like most of America didn't care, or couldn't be bothered. I saw him stay steady, look for his advantages, and believe in the hope that justice would prevail. But that didn't mean he could take it for granted. He might have believed that "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." Yet he knew that arc was not preordained. It depended on the anonymous actions of countless individuals, those willing to do the hard work and too stubborn to believe in a limit of the possible. It is our turn, all of ours, to answer that call today.
Each day I am thankful for nights that turned into mornings, friends that turned into family, dreams that turned into reality and likes that turned into love. ~~~Elizabeth Kuebler-Ross
9/27/2007, IDC, 5cm, Stage II, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-