She, approaching age 59, looked in the mirror and said, “I am better …”
“Great lofty heights attain, to build a nation where peace and justice shall reign.” There, is our north star, the hope of our heroes past.
But hope alone, as we now know, is not enough. Building that nation requires, amongst other things, a vision of excellence as well as a collective aversion to defect. A challenge of our time, which I ponder about here, is this: how to build a national culture of excellence from an indisputably excellent people.
At the dusk of another era in our democracy, the eve of a new regime, stuck yet with the same cast, can we write a new play? At this juncture, it is prudent to take stock and forecast. When every man looks for himself, the truth, is some bitter and some sweet. But when we look at our nation, for what it can be, not just for me, but its character towards all its citizens, and its reputation in the eye of the world, do we yearn for another mother too? Wherever we are, do you and I have a hand in where we go from here?
In the history of great powers, chance never begat a great nation; providence perhaps, but never happenstance. Rarely is it ever said that by the raw genius of men and women proximately situated, discordant in ambition, they became a great nation. No, nations achieve greatness only intentionally. If their destiny be the great lofty heights, their certain arrival will come to pass only by their enmeshed will and concerted effort towards a common purpose – excellence.
In essence, this nation cannot be great by faith alone. Our way of life, our very culture, our shared vision must be – to be the Best ever, no concessions. In this spirit of excellence, where do we go from here? Let’s begin with our individual environment. Consider the things that cost us only a little more attention to detail, or basic responsibility to our community. The tiny deeds of neglect that amass into a national embarrassment. Again, the question is, what can I intentionally contribute to being an excellent part of this nation? To chart your path, be guided by these: what you treasure you do not trash; what you appreciate, you don’t destroy; ingratitude is the parent of wastefulness; every human life deserves respect, because the solution to our problem may rest in the ones we neglect.
Regardless of who governs the land, “I am better.” A diamond is a stone. Yet, a stone is not a diamond till it persuades that it is not one to be tossed or trampled; till it proves by its radiance and its mettle that it is a gem of supreme worth. Then it can command, by its price, residence in a vault, and unquestionable respect. As we proceed, in your little sphere, be a diamond citizen, contribute excellence.
“Practical wisdom is making the faults of others serve as beacons to ourselves.” On …