Watch on

I really can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to this. Mr. Olbermann’s voice is sorely missed, and while I enjoy his blog it really doesn’t make up for the lack of his nightly tilting runs at the machinery of fear, bigotry and ignorance. And while these “giants” are indeed ever-present windmills of great size, it takes courage to dare imagine that they can and should be resisted at every turn, and follow through. Keith does it with grace. I look forward to his return to the airwaves, even as I will likely be watching via the internet.

You may call me a dirty hippie/lefty/pinko-commie/liberal/socialist/“atheistic Islamist” or whatever you like. I identify myself as a progressive thinker who eschews hidebound dogmatism for practical idealism. Welcome to the 21st Century. Pluralism lives.

Complexity is often held up as a dirty word in the world of today, where simple compassion is the dictate which fuels it. Ten-word answers and abbreviated sound bites are catchy, marketable, but often do little to circumscribe the realities of our day to day life. In a world of such interconnectedness, where every single thing we take for granted in our society is constantly challenged by special interests, demogoguery and ignorance, we must embrace the idea that we are in this together. That we are capable of saving ourselves, for ourselves, for our posterity, and securing a future in which no one is a second-class citizen, and no one goes without if they are willing to earn it, regardless of circumstance. 

I conclude my statement here in what I feel is an appropriate quotation from my nation’s history. Mr. Lincoln was speaking of slavery when he delivered this as his concluding remarks to his annual address of Congress, but I will share it here in its entirety because whether it is about slavery, sexual orientation, religion, gender or class, it is still about equality. And it is still as much about how we got here today as about where we are going.

“I do not forget the gravity which should characterize a paper addressed to the Congress of the nation by the Chief Magistrate of the nation. Nor do I forget that some of you are my seniors, nor that many of you have more experience than I, in the conduct of public affairs. Yet I trust that in view of the great responsibility resting upon me, you will perceive no want of respect yourselves, in any undue earnestness I may seem to display.

Is it doubted, then, that the plan I propose, if adopted, would shorten the war, and thus lessen its expenditure of money and of blood? Is it doubted that it would restore the national authority and national prosperity, and perpetuate both indefinitely? Is it doubted that we here–Congress and Executive–can secure its adoption? Will not the good people respond to a united, and earnest appeal from us? Can we, can they, by any other means, so certainly, or so speedily, assure these vital objects? We can succeed only by concert. It is not "can any of us imagine better?” but, “can we all do better?” The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise – with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.

Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We – even we here – hold the power, and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free – honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just – a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.“ - President Abraham Lincoln, Washington, D.C., December 1, 1862

Read that again. Perhaps one of the most important things he said: 

"As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves[…]”

For we are enthralled, often, by what we are told to think, by what we are told to accept, without question. By the machinery of soap opera television and pop culture politicos, by the personalities whose only identifying feature that makes them famous… is their fame. And some of them want your vote for public office. Some of them want to make decisions on your behalf that will shape the world around you. And that’s fine, sure; in a democracy everyone should have the chance to speak. But consider what they say, and how, and why. Not just who is saying it.

I ask you, if you read this far, to consider this. Think about who is asking for your trust, and why. Look at what they do, not merely what they say. Consider it for yourself, and consider the results of those actions. You don’t have to agree with me, with my conclusions - they are my own, hard won from a life lived and experienced by questioning, looking and listening, and experiencing being wrong from time to time. You owe it to yourself to do the same. And to be open to embracing more than one idea. Remember pluralism. If the dogmas of the past, in their unbending “wisdom”, do not serve us well, new ideas must be sought in uncertainty. That way, friends, lies progress.

In the words of Mr. Edward R. Murrow: Good night, and good luck.

Watch on

Keith Olbermann’s call to arms.  Let it fuel you.  Let it inspire you.  Let the truth he speaks fill you with rage.  Then let the rage out and take a stand.  The time is now.  We rise above or we die below, trampled by the wealthy.

And please, pass this on.  It is important.