I was up early today. I wanted to beat the heat. And before ten o’clock, the garden was weeded, cilantro and dill harvested, stepping stones leading to the bird feeders were reset in the ground, and the aforementioned feeders were loaded with new treats for the birds.
The garden is a profusion of growth and color right now… but those weeds do need tending. And so I tackled them before the heat and humidity made the day unbearable. It was good.
Democracies need tending too. Weeds need to be plucked and we have to recommit ourselves to getting up early, dealing with the heat and discomfort, to strengthen the body politic.
You see, I love our country, as corny as that may sound to some. I served it for the better part of my adult life and I took pride in that service and that of countless other Americans — official and unofficial — who reflected values that matter.
We were on the side of the underdog. Gave voice to those who had none. Offered hope to the forsaken. We believed in human dignity and human rights. We cared about women and kids, and LGBTQ community members who were often at risk simply because of who they are and who they have loved.
We addressed the challenges of hunger and malnutrition. We fought malaria and Ebola and we led a crucial worldwide effort against HIV/AIDS. We saved the lives of mothers as they gave life. We stood against dictators, and we argued for a world in which the rule of law and cooperative engagement mattered more than the size of your armies. I know this to be true because this is the work I was honored to do alongside the distinguished women and men of our Foreign Service with whom I served.
And at home we did our best to live up to values as well. No — we didn’t always succeed, but our society has continued to grow and change and evolve. Today, more than ever, we are alive to the need to continue that evolution.
I believe that there is a new commitment to address the threat posed to our social cohesion by racism that is far too prevalent and too readily overlooked by those who don’t feel it’s horrible destructive impact on our lives.
I believe that we will find a new commitment to address the existential challenge of climate change. I believe that we will begin to demilitarize our society and the threat posed by far too many guns and gun violence. I believe we won’t allow stupidity and ignorance and mindless bigotry to define us.
I believe a lot of things. And, I believe we as a people are, for the most part, decent and strong and caring, and that we can shape the future.
The virus we are struggling with is horrible. Our leadership is even worse. But on this 4th of July I’m going to let hope guide me. I’m going to remember how proud I was to serve, how my heart would swell as I saw our flag displayed and heard our anthem played, and I’m going to believe that we can and will be all that we stand for and aspire to. We can make it happen. We must.
Happy Fourth of July.
Stay strong, stay safe, stay healthy.