It seems as though everyone is dissatisfied with the state of the union and the direction of the country. If one is a progressive or a liberal, the trends are ominous and growing worse. If one is a reactionary or a conservative, social collapse or the end of days looms. Though these perspectives are virtually irreconcilable, they have a similar tone. Writing from a progressive or liberal viewpoint, I say to my brother and sister citizens:
Though many have done so much, today they and we must do even more and we must all get to work.
Life is dynamic. It never stands still. If we are not progressing, we are regressing.
Permanence is not a realistic option, and change is both powerful and inevitable.
Because we do not want things to get worse, we must do what it takes to make the situation better.
We should be proud of what we have accomplished, but we must not be complacent. Achievements can be reversed, overturned, or eroded. Yesterday’s victories are today’s battles and in battle triumph is never assured. Forty-eight years ago, many crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the way to Montgomery, but other forces are marching now and the journey is heading for a profoundly different destination.
Though we and the country made real progress in those hallowed days, it is now imperative that we strive to make a good deal more. Achievements are not valid reasons to abandon effort. In fact, they are great starting points for more important gains.
No matter how high we had previously aimed, or how much we have previously attained, the challenges of this hour, this day, and this time demand that we aim higher and do more.
Now we must prove ourselves to be worthy heirs to the people we once were or admit that we are has beens and our glory days are gone forever. We can give our lives an infusion of renewed energy and enthusiasm by giving ourselves a profound and meaningful new mission. Will we set our sights on a new and improved destination; will we summon from our true depths the courage and the commitment to defend and extend the progress of fifty years ago? .
Now as never before we must aim high, achieve greatly and then aim even higher. We know many of the greatest achievements in the world belong to tired, discouraged, despairing people who kept working long past the point when all seemed lost.
We are not merely here to earn a living or pass the time. We are here to inspire the world to live more nobly with a more beneficent vision with a finer and fairer spirit and a greater sense of possibility and aspiration. We are here to enrich and ennoble the world and we impoverish and betray ourselves if we forget or neglect this chore.
We can do it, and we must do it. However, we cannot do it merely for ourselves while forgetting about progress and prosperity for our community. As we rise and resume our efforts they must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others. We must work for their sakes as well as for our own.
We can do it if we recognize that the roughest roads are often those that lead to the mountaintop and the harder the struggle the more glorious the triumph. Let us come together as a beginning; stick together as a strategy, and work together until we triumph.