A former teaching colleague posted a picture on Facebook recently that simply took my breath away. I am not reproducing it here, although I did share it on my Facebook page. My friend was chaperoning a group of middle schoolers on a trip to Independence Hall in Philadelphia. One of the students was blind and also had significant hearing impairment. The park ranger lifted the ropes around the Liberty Bell, so the young man could touch it, while he explained its meaning and history away from the noise of the crowded hall. My friend said it was a moving and powerful moment in a day filled with the general chaos of taking young adolescents who are too cool for their clothes on a field trip.
What the ranger did was beyond kindness. He broke the rules for all the right reasons. This picture symbolized the good in us; it represented what I always believed we are called to be as citizens of this country and as decent human beings.
When I started this blog, I was determined to stay out of politics, religion, and other inflammatory topics. There is way, way too much of that on social media, and I didn’t need to go there to flex my writing muscles. But I am in utter disbelief at what we are allowing to happen. I am not talking about specific issues—our country has had bitter political disagreements for its entire history. The fact that we have the freedom to argue and disagree with each other is part of why we’ve survived for as long as we have.
But we are now deep into uncharted territory and quite frankly, I’m frightened. Lies are being told and laws are being broken with few, if any, repercussions, and we seem to have become blithely accepting of that. For the life of me, I cannot understand how our leaders can continue to condone and rationalize behavior that is not only illegal but downright evil all in the name of retaining power. Those people who say this is how Hitler got the job done have a valid point. And just when I think it can’t get any worse—OK, so this time a line’s been crossed and they’re going to have to do something—it does, and the voices of support roar ever louder.
What would happen if we all stepped away from the chaos and shouting for a few minutes, slipped past the ropes of our individual agendas and placed our hands on the Liberty Bell to remind us of who we are, how we got here and where we’re going?