GUEST POST: A Peaceful Revolution of Hope.


A Peaceful Revolution of Hope

***

AC: Tell me, dear Sir, where will our gathering place be?

AK: Why, in the Palace of Virtue, of course!

AC: But what of true Liberty?

AK: There it was born

AC: But what of true Equality?

AK: There it first breathed.

AC: And of true Fraternity?

AK: There it first cried

***

I was born in middle America in November of 1962 and perhaps I make too much of “my time” but I believe that it was a portentous moment – it was the time of great hope in America, some called it the Dawn of a Golden Age, of the space race and unbounded horizons - John Glenn and the man in orbit and the Apollo program, of that whites-only lunch counter in Greensboro and the coming Civil Rights Act, of the Cold War and of Vietnam, of the waning of Colonialism of the old sort, of Silent Spring and of the flowering of the environmental movement, of The Feminine Mystique, and the rise of people power over against “The Establishment.”  And, at the outset, we had been given, by providence, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, himself a unifying man of hope.  Inaugurated on January 20, 1961, he came to the fore with a vision of leadership that was thrilling.  I imagine that he was born for such a time as that, as he spoke this vision into our collective consciousness.  My Grandmother, who of course never knew him, still loved the man.  For twenty years she kept a bronze colored bust of him in her home, placed in a position of honor - first in priority among the many decorative plates and near countless other knick-knacks.  My first recollection of watching television were images of the man being honored over and over in the years following his assassination in November of 1963.  Though I was very young at the time, those images remain clear as day in my memory.  I believe that, as a child, I sensed what those me around truly felt, when, soon after his passing, the years turned fractious and turbulent.

I am and have always been drawn to his speeches, as well as those of Dr. Martin Luther King. And today, this day, here and now, I want to hold up the inaugural speech as a picture of the wholeness of unity and diversity – the ultimate reminder of the key to the puzzle that explains who we are together and as individuals in America. It stands, critically, as a reminder of what we ought be. It stands as a prescription for the illness of fracture that besets us as a community.  Come with me.  Let’s walk and talk.  I am here to talk about revolutionary culture.  I am here to propose to you a peaceful revolution of hope.

***

Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty….Now the trumpet summons us again -- not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need -- not as a call to battle, though embattled we are -- but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, "rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation," a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans…

John F. Kennedy: "Inaugural Address," January 20, 1961. The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=8032

***

The conception and claim of rights without a concurrent acknowledgment and performance of duty is a mark of tyranny – in a nation, in a community, and in a mind. You need both, in tandem, in a free society and in a free mind – rights and responsibilities.  In freedom they exist jointly and are jointly conceived, in virtue, and so are not birthed alone but enter the world with one holding fast to the other.  They are the joined outworking of relationship.  More than symbiosis they don’t exist long apart from one another.

The Trumpet Call for us then, our way forward, is in duty to our fellow man.  This is the essence of peaceful revolutionary culture – men caring about and, so, honoring the rights of other men even in the midst of crisis and material lack.  It’s a very old notion, but now, we but we are being called to it anew. The enjoyment of the fraternity and individual liberty follows naturally from this unselfish posture of the heart and will.

Another way of understanding this? I submit as follows:

First: Americans subscribe, and have always subscribed, to certain philosophic ideals, and those ideals stood, at the outset, in revolutionary culture, as the catalyst for the hard work done to create our structures and our processes of government.

Second: those ideals, all of them, are twin-born creatures of the morally ascertained sortfreedom and equality, justice and mercy, representative government and democracy, and unity and diversity.

Third: while we still subscribe to those high ideals, we’ve lost the rooted sense of “why?”, and that in that environment of forgetfulness, our faithfulness to those ideals all too often fails when things get rough; that is, when the “I” gets in the way of the “We.”  We profess Red, White, and Blue, but has that profession now become only dry, dead, dogma with a beginning and origin and basis now lost in the fog of our pre-modern past?  1776, what was that all about anyway?  Is there a price that must be paid, every day, for the benefits that we enjoy every day?  If so, what is that price?  And how is it paid?

Fourth: the reason we speak these ideals while abandoning them when things get rough is that, indeed, we have lost, through complacency, the prior sense of obligation and the necessity of action toward others – that sense of obligation toward the other is the price and action is the coin in which that price is paid.

Fifth: the way this all plays out in our day to day thinking, this harmonious lived philosophy of unity in the midst of diversity, is through the symmetrical and inseparable notions of rights and duties.  I have an obligation to my fellow man in this community of people and because of that I, likewise, have a right to expect that he has an obligation to me.  My rights arise in community and I then enjoy them as an individual.  If we lose the notion of rights and duties as part of one composite thing, as our way of living the good life in community, then we find ourselves living solely with ourselves in mind…we become people devoted to ourselves, alone, a people with an entitlement to rights and no felt concurrent obligation to duty; turned only inward and never outward, every man for himself.

And, sixth: our structures of government are, though imperfect, sufficient for facilitating those ideals as a lived American reality.  This American government can, as it is now constituted, function to better ensure the realization of these ideals work for all of its citizens.  We can regain unity and make our way back.

So, what of hope, here, in these United States?  There is every reason to hope but the burden is on us and we must now put our hands to the plow:

In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility -- I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it. And the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.

Kennedy Inaugural, (1961).

And, as for our obligation to the broader community of man:

Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own.

Kennedy Inaugural, (1961).

Finally, look and you’ll see the same echo - of an American hope and a concurrent call to duty - in the words of that old French observer, Alexis De Tocqueville:

In the United States, as soon as several inhabitants have taken an opinion or an idea they wish to promote in society, they seek each other out and unite together once they have made contact. From that moment, they are no longer isolated but have become a power seen from afar whose activities serve as an example and whose words are heeded.

Tocqueville, A., [1835] 2003. Democracy in America. 599. London: Penguin.

I understand that some may bristle and bridle at the religious references, metaphors, and allusions herein offered but Kennedy said what he said. I hope that will not stand in the way of you receiving here what’s otherwise good and helpful in your sight. In any event, these notions point the way to the ultimate statement of the Golden Rule generally prevalent in many cultures and religions and that all reasonable people ought agree to. They call us to depart from the ambition for power and material wealth and to heed the higher the call to love your neighbor as yourself. And, even, perhaps, reach out and to love one’s enemy. The call to work for unity is likewise, a call to break down walls.  As one anonymous Berliner once wrote "This wall will fall. Beliefs become reality." Let’s believe and let's act. Now, that would be revolutionary.

*Guest blogs do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, values, and core platform planks of the Veterans Party of America.

About Anthony Vieira

Anthony VieiraTony Vieira is a native son of the small town of Jacksonville, IL. A patriot son of America having served in the USN and as a member of the Navy JAGC. He was also previously a Los Angeles, California Deputy DA. He has been in private practice ever since. He works mostly in the Courts with juries in both civil and criminal cases. His work, yesterday and today, has been focused on this notion of Justice - what it is and how we achieve it. At last count Tony had been a trial lawyer for right around 28 years.

4 comments on “GUEST POST: A Peaceful Revolution of Hope.
  1. Tony,
    With your graceful style of writing you have really captured the problem. I see this in the extremes, easily – the ultra conservatives teaching their children to take what is theirs, by force if necessary, and ultra liberals teaching their children they are entitled to everything because the were born special and should not have to work for it. And everyone in the middle confused as to what went wrong. For me it’s simple, stop whining about the people who need to get off the government dole and get jobs – and help them – yes, that’s right “If you want them off your taxes – you are going to have to teach them and help them. They didn’t become that way over night – they were painted into a corner by forced social stratification and/or discrimination (you pick, it’s not just color, it’s also your weight, your height, your teeth – any excuse to put people in boxes but especially in boxes below so that they can be above.) And for the rest? You need to work, too, not just complain, get in there and do something, if not a stint in the military then work for Habitat for Humanity or some other organization that is trying to make America great again. American did not become great on it’s own – we will not stay great or become great again without teaming up – working together and dropping that ugly blame game.

    • Thanks Wynne, I must be the choir because, to my mind, what you’ve said, well, thats it. Right on. The issue is how do we get folks to see that its only in unity that we will find the resources to solve our problems? Unity is not just process or mechanics…its also substance. It’s faith in one another and the higher angels of human nature. And faith moves mountains. I think the wrestlings of our current time will be good for us – a catalyst for truthfinding.

  2. The VPA sees that as the single most biggest problem. And the problem is from the divisive manner which the two major parties – work us. Most people cannot even see that is what happens every election year – and now with Internet and a TV in every house – it has become a rock solid foundation for keeping us from united. I think one of the biggest problems we people have as a whole – is that we think we must agree on every thing or we are on “their” side. I do not know how to break through mentality. Just keep talking and talking – and hope some day the die hards will open their minds, ears, and hearts and finally realize how they are duped by the two-party system – which in my opinion is the same party. Just taking turns…

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