Sunday, October 25, 2020

The city upon a hill - less shining, more tarnished, hurtling through a darkest hour

Tim Miller, writing at The Bulwark appraises the current state of our shining city upon a hill.

I’m sure many of you have watched Reagan’s powerful farewell address over the years. I’d ask you to do it again.

Because I don’t see how you can look at America in 2020 and believe that we are living up to Ronald Reagan’s call. We are not acting like a city atop a hill standing on rocks stronger than oceans. Nor are we a land teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace.

What I see instead is a country of pilgrims hurtling through the darkness … yearning for home.

I hope we can still find it.

The past few days when I’ve been at that window upstairs, I’ve thought a bit of the shining “city upon a hill.” The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important, because he was an early Pilgrim - an early “Freedom Man.” He journeyed here on what today we’d call a little wooden boat, and, like the other pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free.

I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind, it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind swept, God blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace - a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors, and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.

That’s how I saw it, and see it still. How Stands the City?

And how stands the city on this winter night? More prosperous, more secure and happier than it was eight years ago. But more than that: after 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm.

And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the Pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.

Somehow, I cannot see Donald Trump making anything approaching that speech.

See Miller’s post for a litany of why not.

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