Last week I had the chance to fly up to NY for a quick business meeting. While a bit of a last second trip, I did indeed have a great exit row, window seat on Delta on the flight up to La Guardia. As we boarded the flight, I dove into the pre-work for my meeting the next day and didn't pay much attention to the view until we were nearing New York City. It was a crystal clear fall afternoon as we started to get close to NY, with the late afternoon sun shining through the autumn clouds and the view below was stunning; none more beautiful and inspirational than the view of the Statue of Liberty that you can see above.
With the very divisive election still very present in our national dialogue, I was immediately “floored” by how everyone on “my” side of the plane were glued to their windows, working to get a glimpse of “Lady Liberty.” Men and Women, young and old, black, brown and white, tall and short, probably republican and democrat all had a shared urge and a “pull” to get a glimpse of a shared American icon. The view outside of the plane was stunning, and the view inside the plane stopped me in my tracks.
I was reminded that in the midst of all the divisive rhetoric, we did have a shared “American” past. We all connected to the statue in one way or another, searching for a better way forward, a better future for our communities and our families. In a time where we seem to focus on ALL the things that divide us, it was a bit heart warming to have that shared moment, all of us like kids glued to a “school bus window” in the sky.
From a personal vantage point, the view reminded me that one side of my family, my mom’s family, had immigrated to the United States from Germany and Luxembourg in the late 1800’s. They came into that same harbor, seeing that same statue, well before Ellis Island had been built, and were “processed” as immigrants through an immigration facility at the tip of Manhattan called Castle Clinton. They didn't speak English, but had come to this county to seek a better life for themselves, their families and the future generations of their families. I am from a family of immigrants, and candidly we are all from families of immigrants regardless of what route, what port or what time period was your or our family’s emigration, we all share that in common. Its tough to remember that we all have a lot in common, in so many ways, coming out of a landscape of divisive language that pervaded the campaign trail.
I share this story a few days before thanksgiving with intent. The view of that lovely statue was a great reminder of how much we have to be thankful for and how much work lies ahead in our journey as a country. We have so much work to do to insure “justice for all,” so much work to do to have EVERY voice heard across our land, so much work to do to reduce the needless violence and hatred across our communities, and the list literally goes on and on and on…. Equally true, we must hold onto and be thankful for the progress that we have made, and be energized by the statue in NY harbor, or other images across our country, to continue that work and be thankful for the generations that have brought us this far, and renew our commitment for the work of “hope, opportunity and thankfulness” ahead. I wish you and your families a very happy thanksgiving!