This Veteran’s Day has prompted some musings about the color blue, the election and Veteran’s Day.
First, former Vice President Biden is now President-elect Biden. The Democrats, generally depicted by the color blue in color graphics, won the presidential election. The chaos and lack of character widely associated with President Trump will soon vacate the White House. The US has now had both a Black president and a Black woman Vice President-elect. When I was born, both were unimaginable in the segregated Jim Crow south as well as, if we're honest, in the rest of the US.
Second, President Trump probably feels depressed, an emotion associated with the color blue. His depression is obvious in his mien. He, from all appearances, is not a person who copes well with losing or rejection.
Similarly, other candidates, Democrats and Republicans alike, who invested considerable time, emotion and resources in losing campaigns for office also probably feel depressed. Yet, I’m grateful for persons who dare to risk running for office and perhaps losing. Competitive candidates are vital for keeping a democracy healthy. Even when I prefer a candidate’s opposition, I’m generally grateful the person has run for office. Notable exceptions to that generalization are candidates who advocate hate, such as the Republican who supports the Q Anon conspiracy and who won a seat in the House of Representatives from north Georgia. (If you’re unfamiliar with Q Anon, they, among other things, aver that Democratic elites are Satanic pedophiles.)
Third, I’m depressed that the US is so riven by political polarization. Although I’m an optimist, I’m pessimistic about the probability of President Biden successfully bridging, much less ending, that polarization. I’ve recently read Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton. Deep political divides are not new. The divides in the nation’s first few decades were as deep and bitter as today’s political divides. Those differences led to the Civil War, Jim Crow, and our current competing visions for the US. The divides warn against ignoring democracy's inherently fragile character.
Fourth, blue, in Christian imagery, symbolizes truth, heaven and eternity. In the weeks and months ahead, Christians may want to focus on prophetic messages of justice, speaking truth to power. Christians, however, must also proclaim God's desire for humans to form a community of the beloved, a community that welcomes all, respects the dignity and worth of all persons equally, and strives to allow all to experience the fulness of life. Becoming the beloved community requires setting aside partisan divides and narrow self-interest. Becoming the beloved community entails joining together to work for the well-being of the earth and all that dwells thereon. Motives outweigh positions in importance. If we’re honest, nobody has a lock on truth; humility benefits all. Focusing on common motive and values permits cooperation, compromise and progress
A core concept of military service is that each service member puts the common good ahead of self-interest. That’s why being in the military is called service. Each service member takes an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. Enlisted personnel take the oath upon enlisting and then again at each re-enlistment. Officers take the oath when commissioned and when promoted. Officers, as did I, generally have opportunity to administer the oath to enlisted members and officers on those various occasions. The military’s ethos reinforces the oath, e.g., Marines never leave a Marine behind. The Congressional Medal of Honor and other medals recognize exemplary service in combat.
Together, military and civilian, we can continue to build a nation that is a bright shining beacon of hope, embodying the promise of democracy and the possibility of together forming a more perfect union. A vision initially limited to white property-owning males has expanded to include people of all races and both genders. More, much more, remains to be done. On this Veteran’s Day, I hope that the blue in the US flag, symbolizing perseverance and justice, will call us in JFK’s memorable words to ask not what our country can do for us but what we can do for our country. When we answer that call to serve, we honor Veterans in the most meaningful way possible.