One Friday in January…
United States Capitol in Washington DC
So tonight, like most nights when I’m home, I tried to help put our 4 year old daughter to bed as best as I could. To her, it was just another Friday “pizza movie night,” then books and bed, but to me it was much more. For earlier today something happened in Washington, DC, that doesn’t happen all that often. It was quite a site and spectacle. It was a Friday different than most. It mattered to me, and I watched and observed every prayer, oath, and toast, then parade full of extemporaneous salutes, smiles, and protests, but for a 4 year old it didn’t really matter all that much.
Why? That’s easy. When I was four years old, the world watched and observed a man who, even as a president, seemed larger than life, or any office, but ultimately wasn’t. He did his best to do his job. But he was flawed as we all are. Then there was another, and another, and another. Some succeeded while others failed.
But is it really black and white? Officeholders come and go while the office remains.
Tomorrow, Caroline will wake up, I hope, like every other day and what happened the day before really won’t matter. She will want breakfast, milk, then to play. Outside our house, many kids will want the same while some will want more. Elsewhere, some will need more. Some, somewhere in the world, won’t make it to sunset. And that sucks. But that’s the world we live in like it or not. It is a world not defined by a country, an office, a man, or a way of life.
Outside Caroline’s room, on a tall flagpole anchored near a big inland lake, flies an American flag. 13 stripes with 50 stars. That flag is the same flag that has flown for years over our house and for hundreds of years domestically above our capital. And it has flown in countries I cannot even pretend to know how to pronounce. And that is the same flag that will continue to fly long after Caroline has grown and I’m gone.
Our flag is who we are.
So, tomorrow, like today, I’ll try to do my best and I hope you will, too. Pay it forward. Be passionate, Bust your ass for something. Fail. Try again then try again. Suffer. Fail. Feel pain. Succeed.
And pass a law. Maybe, just maybe. In the 114th Congress, the last one, there were more than 11,000 bills introduced and less than 2% became law. I helped make one a law. Wow. But tomorrow that won’t matter. Neither will the broken windows, discarded bricks, or broken souls that now dot our nation’s capital.
What does matter? That there will be a sunrise. And what will matter is what we do next. What I do next. What you do next. What even Caroline does next.
Case in point? This morning, the most powerful man in the world struggled to salute the most powerful generals and military officers in the world. He looked out of place and justifiably so. But by the end of the day, as dusk settled on Washington, DC, and I watched, that same man jubilantly saluted every Boy and Girl Scout who passed by his viewing stand just like his 10 year old son did. He wanted more.
The choice is ours and what happens next starts with each of us and how we greet the day. Tomorrow, then the next day, then the next. In our own unique ways.
Red? Blue? Hardly, I hope.