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Rather writes: "It's one thing to curse the darkness. It's another thing to light a candle. This maxim - my rough paraphrase of a quote I have seen attributed to the founder of Amnesty International - has been echoing in my mind in recent days as I hear and talk to many people about the approaching ascension of the Trump Administration."

Dan Rather. (photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
Dan Rather. (photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)


It's One Thing to Curse the Darkness. It's Another Thing to Light a Candle.

By Dan Rather, Dan Rather's Facebook Page

20 January 17

 

t's one thing to curse the darkness. It's another thing to light a candle.

This maxim - my rough paraphrase of a quote I have seen attributed to the founder of Amnesty International - has been echoing in my mind in recent days as I hear and talk to many people about the approaching ascension of the Trump Administration.

I know well that there is a tense anxiety eating away at many of my fellow citizens. I have read it in the comments and messages to this page. I have heard it from many of you in person, when we meet on the street, in airports, or even men's rooms. There is a deep dismay bordering on defeatism. The end of the Republic. We are doomed. There is no reason to hope for a better future.

It would be foolish and disingenuous to downplay the challenges we face but every ounce of my experiences convinces me that we, as a people, have more grit than this. Yes the hurdles may be high, but it is time for a bit of a "reality check" as some of my younger colleagues are wont to say.

I witnessed the strategic huddles of Martin Luther King, Jr. and other Civil Rights leaders in the early days of the movement when their country seemed to be ignoring their plight. And they only grew more determined. I walked the dangerous patrols with young GIs in the jungle hell that was Vietnam who wondered whether America would learn about the injustices of that war, and they remained determined. I have stood shoulder to shoulder with so-called common folk as they filled sandbags to hold off a rising Mississippi River. I have walked through neighborhoods leveled by tornadoes, or hurricanes, or even riots with storekeepers vowing to rebuild. I have seen young men and women forsake wealth and an easier life to dedicate themselves to the noble profession of teaching. In these examples, and countless more, I see the America I know, the America I love, the America I expect to continue. But that destiny is in our hands.

Democracy is much more than just the right to vote. It is the duty to participate. I fear that too many who are now so fearful of the future were lulled in the past by the malignancy of passivity. President Obama was in the White House, they told themselves. The demographics of our country are our destiny. At the same time, do not discount the power of the numbers as reflected in the popular vote in the last election.

You can't forsake your voice and then complain about not being heard. And I sense, with a growing activism around such things as the Affordable Care Act, we are seeing the stirrings of a new leadership. I have heard from some of you about how you have attended political rallies and been disappointed by some of the party heads who claim to speak in your name. How they are out of touch and uninspiring. So if you don't like them, tell them so. Advocate for others to take their place or run against them yourself. Run for offices big and small. We need more engineers and teachers and nurses and scientists in our public offices. Why? Why not?

You may not like the politics of the Tea Party, but you can't deny their effectiveness. They didn't like their leadership, so they ran against them. That is how democracy is supposed to work.

I come back to the message with which I started - that of lighting a candle to ward off the darkness. It is important to note that this need not be a raging fire. Even a candle is a start. If you are eager to make a change, starting with a checklist of the possible is a good beginning. And then we can all work from there, together, shining more light along our march to a more just and equitable world.

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+58 # newell 2017-01-20 16:22
First I have to say that I like most of what Mr. Rather has to say but when he says:

" In these examples, and countless more, I see the America I know, the America I love, the America I expect to continue."

Sounds like "Make America great again" or "America has always been great" to me. Just the U.S. usurping of the word "America" is too much. Didn't Castro and Allende live in America? Weren't they Americans? This is not splitting hairs. Ask anyone from Central America or South America. And you'll notice they do not refer to us as America. It is just another example of our assumed "exceptionalism ".

And why does he love America? All of the things he talks about are applicable to any country. The U.S. has good people--but so do every country I have visited. With the U.S. history of Indian cleansing, slavery, and wars in the last 50 years that have killed 4 million innocent men, women and children---- I see nothing to love.

I do see the promise of a great country where we honor something besides money and power, where we respect the environment, where we have education and healthcare for all, safe communities, creative work, and fewer cages. I see the promise of a melting pot of color and culture that has the health and vitality of diversity and hybridization.

But this promise, the promise of a great country, slipped further away today as a fool became president.
 
 
+9 # Thomas Martin 2017-01-20 23:55
... "this promise, the promise of a great country, slipped further away today as a fool became president" ... our country's problem isn't standing up for causes, but standing up for just causes ... also, I took my Mom on a trip through Europe in 1983, after my Dad passed away, and tried to correct her in saying our nationality was "American" - I said to say "US" - America is bigger than the US, and the US keeps getting smaller.
 
 
+6 # kando@ltidewater.net 2017-01-21 07:16
Right on, my friend. Down with the negative world view that considers decency, humanity and democratic values as "exceptional". There is great hope in realizing that "American values" aren't exceptional at all.
 
 
+6 # HowardMH 2017-01-21 10:25
Yes, slipping, and slipping, and slipping away.

Interior Department banned from Twitter after re-tweet of smaller-than-us ual Trump inauguration crowd. The censorship has started.

The Interior Department was ordered Friday to shut down its official Twitter accounts — indefinitely — after a National Park Service employee shared two tweets that noted President Trump’s relatively small inaugural crowds compared to the numbers former president Barack Obama drew in 2009.

Let me add, the crowd was also smaller than Bush, Clinton, Bush, or Reagan’s.
 
 
0 # Jim Young 2017-01-24 17:32
I need to get reacquainted with the "atmosphere" of the Alien and Sedition Acts to try to make sense of this.

As much as I have far greater respect for John Adams than for Trump, we should have learned better by this time in our history.

I did hold Adams at fault, and Jefferson as admirable in the case of the Alien and Sedition Acts, but I would want neither to have all the power at any one time. I greatly appreciate the balance of power that kept either from being able to too badly abuse the power that each had at the of their peaks. That said, I can't believe we are having to fight these kinds of battles again, at this time in our history.

How could we accelerate so far and so fast away from where we could have, and should have, been by this time in our history?

Seems past time to ask America to think again, before they try to be recognized as being great again.
 
 
+57 # librarian1984 2017-01-20 17:37
Sanders has lit millions of lights.
 
 
-6 # tm7devils39 2017-01-21 00:37
...and he snuffed most of them out when he decided not to fight Hillary...to the end.
 
 
-8 # Winston Smith II 2017-01-20 20:37
"There is a deep dismay bordering on defeatism. The end of the Republic. We are doomed. There is no reason to hope for a better future."

What is Dan Rather talking about. This is sore loserism at its worst. Maybe people inside the Clinton circle are feeling this way but no one else is. I get it that the mass media of which Rather is a part are trying to convince Americans to feel this way as another tactic to undermine the Trump presidency. And maybe some Gullivers do feel this way.

But everyone I see is energized. The Democratic party is coming out of its Clinton shell like a new butterfly. Sanders says he will join with Trump on some key issues. Americans are so mobilized about healthcare that the republicans don't dare trash Obamcare.

Most Americans on the left and right want change. They may have different ideas about change but in some polls 91% of americans feel that the nation is on the wrong track. Trump is change or at least he campaigned that way. So did Obama. Obama brought no change and his party was thrown out. If Trump does not bring change, his party will be thrown out. This is actually a hopeful place to be. It is the end of the wrong track from Reagan up to now.
 
 
+5 # Winston Smith II 2017-01-21 15:55
I was at the Women's March in DC today. The mood was totally great. There was no "deep sismay bordering on defeatism." There was defiance, energy, and commitment. We are not near the "end of the republic." Democracy, freedom, justice and all the rest are permanent struggles. The Democrat party went to sleep under Obama and the Clintons. Trump has awakened a sleeping giant -- giant in the sense that a majority of Americans really do care about social justice, healthcare, peace, and respect of the religious practices of others. We were all just silent because we wanted Obama or Hillary to be our spokespersons. They betrayed us. Now we will fight for ourselves.
 
 
0 # Tigre1 2017-01-21 16:38
I applaud your willingness. Perhaps you are more critical of your defeat-tasting elders than necessary. You seem to think that we are in a phase of American doldrums, originating with us.
I, on the other hand, took the trouble to google koch+stalin, and found out what a 'stuxworm' the Russian dictator paid Koch to unleash into our culture.

And Koch was GREAT, possibly the most effective long-term agent the world has EVER seen. To him, STalin's training, and money, plus Koch's genius as an engineer, we owe every one of the Koch-formed and supported 'think tanks' and media training and much 'dark money' which somehow doesn't count when the TPs
buy elections and claim they needed no money.

Look, you think that your dissatisfaction with the US government is your natural rebellious, ungovernable free nature. OK: reeps got elected, and cut budgets to, for instance, the VA...and then did their best to destroy the entire program and replace it with a private, money-grubbing company. They're still doing it. They never sleep...because STalin gave them their mission.
Tou think you've had a 'conservative' revolution, and have done your best to destroy the US government.
The Russians, who favor allying with your 'conservative' revolution, who have a written political history going back thousands of years, and they are cleverer than most Americans in this regard...yes, you guys even pride yourself on not knowing much about politics. Nice to have something you can be proud of.
 
 
+4 # Etaoin 2017-01-20 23:12
It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

Eleanor Roosevelt (said it first
 
 
+5 # Emmanuel Goldstein 2017-01-20 23:13
I like what Dan Rather is saying here. All is not lost. There's a lot of goodness in this country and a lot of energy.

When things went off the rails for the right in 2008, the grassroots rose up and made noise. They called themselves the Tea Party and they managed to make a difference, a big difference.

Those of us on the left are now in a similar situation. And now we need to do the same thing -- emulate the TP's energy and zeal, instead of just sitting around and complaining!
 
 
0 # tr4302@gmail.com 2017-01-21 00:26
We made our bed so we have to sleep in it.


When my daughter came home, I sat her down at the kitchen table, gave her a Kit Kat from her hoard of Halloween candy, and offered this explanation of the election: “Imagine the stupidest thing you could ever do, like peeing on a stack of pancakes. Now, imagine that the United States is a stack of pancakes. Millions of grownups just peed on it.”
 
 
+3 # andyseles 2017-01-21 01:28
With you Librarian and Our Revolution all the way!
 
 
0 # Nancy Jakeman 2017-01-21 05:24
There is an exceptionable within every human heart.It is the Divine Spark that Jesus called Our Father. Listen in the silence, to that light within the heart, that spark we observe in Dan... in Bernie... the "good" Self. Only good can come from this.
 
 
0 # hermthor 2017-01-21 06:35
I would love to hear you explain why you "believe" you are exceptional. And while you are about it, bring some clear examples and substantial evidence for your claims.
 
 
+4 # Aging teacher 2017-01-21 08:43
Thank you for returning to the fully-moderated format. We share common goals even though our methods may differ, and abusive language and insults only divide us when what we need is unity within diversity of people and beliefs. The US and the world are polarized already; my hope is that as people wanting rational responsive government, peace, justice, and freedom, we can overlook the non-essentials of who we are and what we think to concentrate on larger major goals. Dan Rather: we can take moves that may be accused of legitimizing the system--call or write representatives in Congress and the Senate, write to every possible local newspaper, attend community meetings (no matter what the topic or group), and engage in conversation. Those of us who can't march can continue to make our voices heard--and not just to those with whom we agree.
 
 
+2 # Tigre1 2017-01-21 17:02
Current folk knowledge says that "all humanity could unite if they had but one enemy"
which for survival would necessitate unity.

Is that part of the current RW strategy, that we unite over some lowest common denominator, some hate of the most recent additions?...I' m supposed to be proud that we're united in hating poor, willing, obedient immigrants? God forbid.
And yet, I've read some history. Why should I be surprised at scapegoating?
 
 
0 # lfeuille 2017-01-21 16:28
I disagree. Before it was dynamic and lively. Now it seems flat. There is no immediacy. And it seems to have driven away some of the most interesting posters.
 
 
+1 # kcmwilson 2017-01-22 19:24
I love Dan Rather, but a Trump presidency is much like balancing a spinning plate atop a pool cue held by the American people. We need to be prepared to rescue our country from the enormous errors and missteps of this simple unknowing being! He needs our help.
 
 
+1 # kcmwilson 2017-01-22 19:47
Dan, you are one of the best journalists we have ever had. As a fellow journalist I must tell you that your optimism is unfounded. I wish you were right, but democracy in America, in a capitalistic society, means that everything is for sale, and we have sold ourselves to the corporations. Look deeply into who really owns America. Marx was right when he said we would sell the hangman the rope to hang us with.
Fascism is an ugly word, but with a simple meaning. It results when the CEOs and the corporate leaders run things, take most of the profits and make the rules. Tell me that that is not where we are.
Trump is not very aware or astute. Some will say he is not very bright. Everyone knows this except Trump. We all grew up around dumb people who were not smart enough to realize they were stupid. Stuff a hundred million dollars in their bank account and they will never come to satori.
In essence, we need to be prepared to rescue America. Liberals, Democrats, Independents, moderate and thinking Republicans all need to be prepared to come together in the near future to save this republic.
This is not a normal problem Dan. This is a potential threat to both America and humanity. We have somehow allowed someone just a tad insane to take the reigns of the most powerful country in the world.
This is one of those few instances when I truly wish there were a GOD so I could say...GOD HELP US with a bit of hope.
 
 
0 # Jim Young 2017-01-24 17:07
A start to making a checklist of the possible? Take the phrase

"Make America Great Again"

and convert it to

"Make America THINK Again"

Though I prefer a more polite

"Ask America to THINK Again"

Do not allow ourselves to outsource our thinking to any single "news" source, talk with each other and see what a good mix of sources say.

"Fact check" everyone to see who's stories stand the tests of time and reason (from multiple and diverse sources, needed now more than ever before).

Look up and apply the C.R.A.A.P. test.
 

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