Sunday, June 11, 2006

Moyers: "Reciprocity sustains us"

Sunday morning inspiration from Bill Moyers. From his baccalaureate address to Hamilton College graduates.
This reciprocity sustains us. If you doubt it, look around you. Hamilton College was raised here by people before your time, people you'll never know, who were nonetheless thinking of you before you were born. You have received what they built and bequeathed, and in your time you will give something back. That's the deal. On and on it goes, from generation to generation.

Civilization sustains and supports us. The core of its value is bread. But bread is its great metaphor. All my life I've prayed the Lord's Prayer, and I've never prayed, "Give me this day my daily bread." It is always, "Give us this day our daily bread." Bread and life are shared realities. They do not happen in isolation. Civilization is an unnatural act. We have to make it happen, you and I, together with all the other strangers. And because we and strangers have to agree on the difference between a horse thief and a horse trader, the distinction is ethical. Without it, a society becomes a war against all, and a market for the wolves becomes a slaughter for the lambs.
Moyers writes about my core values so beautifully and simply. These values have a lot to do with why I'm a progressive and why I'm so concerned about public education.

The 'me first why should I care about other people' theme runs strong among many of the parents I know. They are all good people who want the best for their kids. Fine, but I end up feeling inordinately sad and angry because in the big picture, we are all connected. This interconnection sustains us, as written by Moyers, and without this awareness, we will collectively make our lives and the lives of our kids worse in the long run.