We all have heroes, men and women who are called to bravely exchange their dreams for mere survival. They bravely go to the battlefield, whether that is the city streets, the pulpit, the Capitol, or foreign lands where enemies shoot to kill. But there are other heroes, too. They are the ones left behind. They have no choice but to do what is asked of them…wait. These heroes are the mothers, wives, daughters, sons, and husbands who wait for phone calls and pray for safety.
These who are left behind do not have the luxury to be faint of heart. For while the others sacrifice, these ARE the heart, the heart that beats for our nation. Those who do not march to war must have hearts strong enough to sustain those who do. They must be able to give hope in the despair of war, courage in the face of danger, principle in a world that lacks wisdom, and they must be gracious…so gracious to be the goodness worth fighting for.
Abigail Adams had such a heart. She offered it to her husband through an arsenal of words that would encourage his fight through the birth of our nation and the violence of revolution. John Adams was a strong man, but his task was insurmountable alone. So he had her, a woman of fierce heart to remind him of virtue even as he was steeped in depravity.
As Abigail wrote to her husband, he was to unify a movement that would build a nation. Today, that nation wavers, divided by rhetoric. Friends of years past barely speak because of the labels they have been given…conservative. Liberal. Right-wing. Leftist. Republican. Democrat. Words have been used against us, dividing us over issues that barely exist. There is no need to think for the subtle hints of agenda woven through each story. Slights are exaggerated by a hungry press starved for truth because they have accepted emotion instead. In the isolation of a digital world, we comment on sensational stories with words unfit for polite company and we assume nobody notices. If anyone should notice, we simply escalate and sharpen the tone.
Abigail’s letters began with the greeting “My Dearest Friend.” In the context of friendship, labels are meaningless but conversation is deep. There is honesty. To defer to our fellow Americans as Dearest Friends would defeat rhetoric and make room for truths that gird us. Abigail’s Arsenal is a step toward friendship. It is an honest discussion minus labels so that thoughts are free to grow. There may be disagreement, but disagreement is vulnerability and when Americans are free to be vulnerable, we are at our best. It’s time for our best. Give us the grace to find the truth. Make us one nation again. Remind us that the United States are diverse, but in the richness of diversity we are Indivisible.