In 1940, journalist Edward R. Murrow stood in a church in England while the country endured German bombers night after night. Inside the church was a crudely written sign which read, “If your knees knock, kneel on them.”
It’s time for Americans to get up off their knees and fight.
Like a hamster on a wheel, we’ve become stuck going over and over the same arguments and never getting anywhere.
It’s time for Americans to find the courage to stand up and stand together against the hate and the violence that has become a daily, crippling disease; to stand up to bullies who are more interested in pulling us down instead of lifting us up.
We know the people who lift us up. They’re pillars of character in every town and city in America. They’re role models of decency, respect and responsibility.
It’s time to accept our responsibility to change the conditions that pull us apart. We control our destiny, not tyrants who pretend to know what’s right for us.
And when we feel overwhelmed by all the hurtful and hateful rhetoric that takes us away from our pursuit of happiness, it’s time to fight for who we are and what we stand for: a democracy of, by, and for the people. We can debate how we get there, but without a strong moral compass we will never achieve our long-term goal of being the best that we can be for ourselves, our families and our communities.
In World War II, during England’s greatest existential crisis, Murrow wanted “to understand what sustained this island people: what belief or what mythology caused them to stand so steady in their shoes. The bottom of this calm confidence stemmed from a belief that what they were defending was good . . . They believed not only in themselves but that they were fighting against evil things and the fight was worthwhile.”
However the mess we’ve made for ourselves, it’s time to move beyond the fear, doubt, and deceit, look deep into our souls and revive the faith in ourselves and each other. It’s time to look toward the common good, not for the few, and not to tear down but to build each other up.
In American democracy’s crisis of conscience, it’s time for each of us to find the conviction, the passion, the faith, and the moral courage to act on what we know is right. Those are the values of character from which we have always drawn our greatest strength in times of crisis.
It’s time for Americans to find that strength of character again.