Remembering Our Affection For One Another

"But, we have always had so much more in common with each other than in disagreement."

Senator John McCain

Recently, during a conversation about our deeply divided country, and the concern we share for its future, a friend said something I haven't been able to forget: 

"We need to remember our affection for one another."

Those words resonated deeply, and they continue to reverberate in my heart like an echo off of the walls of a deep canyon. They ring as words of a distant truth that we once knew, but are in danger of forgetting.

"We need to remember our affection for one another."

As citizens, it seems we are increasingly choosing to stand on opposite sides of a deep canyon, shouting across the widening chasm at one another. I wonder, if we stopped shouting, and bent our ears to the canyon edge, might we hear the distant echos of our shared affection for one another? 

"We need to remember our affection for one another."

While I never voted for him, and I often disagreed with his perspectives, I've always felt a deep respect for Senator John McCain. I felt a kinship with him as a fellow American, and I am saddened that his fierce spirt has left the earth. But I imagine if I were to bend my ear close to the edge of the canyon, I would hear his words ringing back...

"My fellow Americans, we need to remember our affection for one another."

I offer this post in honor of and in gratitude for Senator John McCain, and am humbled and inspired by his final words below. 

A final statement from Sen. John McCain, who died Saturday at 81, read by his spokesman Rick Davis:

"My fellow Americans, whom I have gratefully served for 60 years, and especially my fellow Arizonians, thank you for the privilege of serving you and for the rewarding life that service in uniform and in public office has allowed me to lead. I've tried to serve our country honorably. I've made mistakes, but I hope my love for America will be weighed favorably against them. I've often observed that I am the luckiest person on Earth. I feel that way even now as I prepare for the end of my life. I've loved my life, all of it. 

I've had experiences, adventures, friendships enough for ten satisfying lives and I am so thankful. Like most people, I have regrets but I would not trade a day of my life in good or bad times for the best day of anybody else's. I owe the satisfaction to the love of my family. One man has never had a more loving wife or children he was prouder of than I am of mine. And I owe it to America to be connected with America's causes, liberty, equal justice, respect for the dignity of all people brings happiness more sublime that life's fleeting pleasures. Our identities and sense of worth are not circumscribed but are enlarged by serving good causes bigger than ourselves. 

Fellow Americans, that association has meant more to me than any other. I lived and died a proud American. We are citizens of the world's greatest republic. A nation of ideals, not blood and soil. We are blessed and a blessing to humanity when we uphold and advance those ideals at home and in the world. We have helped liberate more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. We have acquired great wealth and power in the progress. We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been. We are 325 million opinionated, vociferous individuals. We argue and compete and sometimes even vilify each other in our raucous public debates. 

But, we have always had so much more in common with each other than in disagreement. If only we remember that and give each other the benefit of the presumption that we all love our country, we'll get through these challenging times. We will come through them stronger than before. We always do. Ten years ago, I had the privilege to concede defeat in the election for president. I want to end my farewell to you with heartfelt faith in Americans that I felt so powerfully that evening. I feel it powerfully still. Do not despair of our present difficulties, we believe always in the promise and greatness of America because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit, we never surrender, we never hide from history, we make history. Farewell fellow Americans. God bless you and god bless America." 


"We need to remember our affection for one another."

"We need to remember our affection for one another."