Coming Together

The recent week of celebrations and funeral of Queen Elizabeth II has reminded me of several other recent funerals at the Washington National Cathedral.  I live across the street from the Cathedral and I am a member of the congregation.  I was not, of course, among the invitees to these services.  However, I stood outside the cathedral and paid my respects to John McCain (September 1, 2018), George H.W. Bush (December 5, 2018), Colin Powell (November 5, 2021), and Madeline Albright (April, 27, 2022).  On September 22nd, there was a service celebrating Queen Elizabeth II.

In all of these experiences, I have felt a strong sense of coming together beyond political or ideological divides.  Right or left, red or blue did not matter.  We were celebrating people who greatly contributed to the well being of our country.  Both sides of the aisle celebrated these amazing patriot citizens.  The grandeur of the National Cathedral, laced with oratory and compelling music brought us all together, even for those of us who were watching from the sidelines or on streaming video.

Why cannot we feel this more often?  I think we all yearn for the feeling of coming together.  Yet political and social forces want to separate people into “us” and “them.”  How would one’s party gain power, and control of resources, if one embraced our adversaries?  One needs them to be the enemy, with evil and better yet pedophile tendencies.  One needs to inspire deep hatred.

Why?  Quite simply, people have needs to gain control of political prerogatives and resources to reward their collaborators with the spoils of political war.  This assumes a zero-sum world.  Anything one gains, the other loses.  But, everybody can gain if we simply decide, collectively, that this is the way we want society to work.  With everybody gaining, they are able to consume, which creates jobs, yields taxes, and enables them to volunteer in whatever ways they find meaningful.

In my neighborhood – see last week’s post – I then encounter lots of people who are gaining, sharing and stopping to chat, or perhaps argue about sports.  We are all progressing together is a variety of ways.  I enjoy hearing about who is doing what, and helping a little if I can.  That’s what being a neighbor is all about.

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