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October 25, 2019

Listening to Barrack Obama this afternoon give a well-thought-out and customarily eloquent eulogy to the recently-departed Elijah Cummings was a welcome, albeit brief, return to a time that already seems so distant. Remember when we had a president who could speak in complete sentences with humility and generosity? That was less than three years ago. Remember when we had a prominent member of congress who bravely spoke the truth? That was last week… We are truly living in a watershed moment for our country and the world. Time itself no longer appears to make much sense.

I guess those of us my age have been unbelievably lucky. The arch of history, from our perspective, has always tended to bend upwards, towards our higher aspirations. Racism still existed, but the worst offenders were no longer getting elected to public office. Tolerance itself, whether it be to sexual orientation or religion, appeared to blossom like a flower. We even voted a black man with the middle name of “Hussein” as our President. Twice.

And then the Russians and our worst instincts got involved…

The two heroes of this first paragraph are more the types of individuals I prefer to consider, however. Because they both are wonderful examples of how one man or woman can make a lasting and positive difference in this huge and dangerous world.

Many, if not most, of us can identify individuals in our own private, small world who rose from out of the blue to make things better as well. In truth, any one of us has the ability to rise up, if only momentarily, to be that person. Catching a stranger about to fall off a curb, or calling out an injustice when one occurs, might happen by surprise or be presented at the most inopportune time. If more of us handled those moments with the grace and wisdom of these heroes, we could easily initiate a collective return towards that upward path.

Elijah Cummings, to my mind, was not necessarily fated to be a great man. But he sure became one. I was always struck not only by his courage but by his insistence on maintaining poise and dignity no matter the situation. His contribution to the fabric of our country cannot be overstated. He will assuredly be missed in the days, months and years to come, as he already is.

Our current president has no business running this country. My ultimate hope is that the arch of history will designate his less-than-one-term presidency as an abomination, never to be repeated again. Hope, like good-will and decency, must continue to thrive, even in the darkest of days. Or survive, at least.

We need men like the Honorable Elijah Cummings and President Barrack Obama to demonstrate how enlightened individuals can surprisingly appear. We need people unafraid to answer the call of their own moment of courage, whether it be of the minute or enormous variety. Because if left unchecked, a single individual can cause an astronomical amount of harm that will be felt for years and decades to come.

We need men and women like you and me.

And luckily, they’re all around.

Voting, hopefully, when our next moment of truth is at hand.

RIP, Elijah Cummings. You will be remembered


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