In 1941, as President Roosevelt remained reluctant to enter the war in Europe, Prime Minister Winston Churchill was dining with U.S. Ambassador John Gilbert Winant discussing England’s fate. Listening to the BBC, the radio station announced that the Japanese had attacked American ships at Pearl Harbor. Within minutes, Churchill received a phone call from FDR confirming the attack adding, “We’re all in the same boat, now.”
The path before President Biden is daunting: maximizing the supply and distribution of the coronavirus vaccine; passing a relief bill to help millions of Americans and businesses who continue to suffer; reforming racial injustice; immigration; education; jobs; infrastructure and the list goes on. As President, Biden is also tasked with communicating in a calm, clear manner, progress reports to the American people. Most important of all, he must work with Republicans in the bipartisan effort he promised. Together, the two sides must prove to a cynical American public that help is truly on the way.
As citizens, however, the path before us is more formidable.
Rebuilding the soul of America presents us with more challenges than ever to bridge a divide not seen since the Vietnam war, and it begins by asking ourselves a fundamental question: what do we believe in?
All of us share a belief in the American Dream, an expression popularized by historian James Truslow Adams who wrote, “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.”
The circumstances facing us now require a steep uphill climb and undoubtedly we will fall before reaching common ground. But we’ve fallen many times before and have always gotten up and continued on. We need that tenacity again as we strive to replace anger with kindness, hate with tolerance, and turn division into unity.
America still holds the promise of a better life for all, but only if we’re willing to work for it, because we’re all in the same boat.
I will return on Monday.