Wednesday, June 30, 2010

History and Hope: Celebrating America

For seven years I have commented on current events, waxed philosophical about creative and disturbing trends and tried to be a faithful "messenger to the thoughtful." As we celebrate America's 234th birthday, we are watching the erosion of ideals and institutions that have held our experiment in liberty together. I will continue to try to move the conversation from anger to action, from subjective feelings to principled thinking and from collectivist control to personal freedom.

Today, however, let's take a moment to celebrate. Historical reflection is not mind-numbing nostalgia. Looking back can help us look ahead. Seeing the depravity and dignity of previous generations can inspire and warn us about our own. Here are some reasons to light the sparklers and ignite the fireworks over the ocean.

We still live is the freest land in the world, with open space and opportunities found nowhere else.

We are a generous people, who, in spite of our own environmental challenges, lead the world in care for other nations.

We are still living in the shadow of the Greatest Generation who spent their teen and young adult years battling the Great Depression, storming the Normandy beaches and surviving the Bataan Death March. This generation witnessed the Holocaust and Hiroshima and still built the most prosperous land in history, marched for civil and voting rights and bequeathed a belief in the future.

We are the land of Lincoln. We are capable of repentance and transformation, of challenging injustice and changing structures when needed.

We are the land of Washington. We know intuitively that a free people must be reverent and virtuous, humble and sacrificial, ready to serve posterity over their personal passions.

We are the land of Christian and Enlightened thinkers who pioneered total freedom of conscience and created a context for people of all faiths or none to live peaceably with their deepest differences.

We are also the land of William Jennings Bryan and Dorothy Day. One was a progressive Democratic candidate for President three times and a fundamentalist Christian (who says traditional faith and social conscience cannot be woven together?). The other was a Catholic lay leader who spent her lifetime working for the poor and laboring populations and refusing to accept the economic or social status quo.

We are the land of Rabbi Abraham Heschel and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. They marched together for Civil Rights and left speeches and writings that remain as fresh as they day they were uttered or written.

We are the land of The Williamsburg Charter, a celebration of two centuries of freedom of conscience. This Charter is signed by Coretta Scott King and Phyllis Schafly. Elie Weisel and Norman Lear's signatures are next to bishops, intellectuals, politicians and business leaders who all know that religious liberty is the first freedom.

We are the land that represents hope for a world where liberty is unknown and violence plagues people of faith and justice.

Yes, i could comment on the legacy of slavery, our continental conquests and our many mistakes. But today we need to thank God for our land, humbly beseech His mercy for our many failures, leave our computers and go eat with our neighbors and serve those who cannot return the favor.

"America is great because she is good." May we live up to the praises of Alexis de Tocqueville, circa 1831. We have reason to celebrate and in our rejoicing reconsecrate ourselves to our Founder's vision.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Genius of the First Amendment

Freedom is fragile. Throughout history, most people have lived in cultures or under regimes where blood, religion and soil have determined beliefs and behavior with no room for dissent. In the past 500 years, Judeo-Christian and Enlightenment affirmations of full liberty of conscience, private property and personal virtue have brought enormous good to the world.

As the US Constitution was framed and ratified in 1787, our Founders added ten amendments to ensure its passage and explicitly enumerate critical personal rights and political boundaries. Whether it is the right to bear arms, a trial by jury or the freedom to assemble, speak and petition the government, Americans have enjoyed liberty without parallel or precedent for more than 200 years. Sometimes those freedoms chafe our sense of justice as criminals, "take the 5th." Sometimes free speech is interpreted so broadly that millions are offended by blasphemous and immoral images and language. But most Americans - and most who have followed our lead around the world - feel the risks are the price we pay for liberty.

The first and greatest freedom is enshrined in the first sixteen words of the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or restricting the free exercise thereof." This clause, along with the Constitutional declaration that there shall be no religious test for public office, constitutes the greatest experiment in freedom in history. For the first time, differences about the most important matters of the human soul are left to the individual and not determined by the state. No state church. People of all faiths or none can live with their deepest differences without fear. Religious communities are protected and welcomed, but they must compete in a free market of ideas and their future rests on their vitality, not state coercion or subsidies.

Over the years, this freedom has been tested by bigoted and intolerant people. Anti-Catholic and anti-Jewish sentiments permeate much of our history. Atheists and believers passionately present their causes, each claiming to have the best evidence. In the past half-century, secular elites have created a new sport with their anti-Christian screeds, like Bill Maher's failed movie and the constant attempts of the ACLU to eliminate religious expressions from the public square. Most Americans are appalled at intolerance and are willing to live with diversity.

Recent events in Dearborn, Michigan reveal the ugly side of intolerant Islam. They unveil an unprecedented threat to our future liberties. Christians were arrested for engaging in peaceful conversations about religion at an Arab festival. They were not blocking foot traffic, hurling insults, picketing or even accosting pedestrians like the brochure distributors in Las Vegas or New York. They were shouted down, accused of causing trouble and carried away in handcuffs. Amidst Islamic shouts, peaceful US citizens were denied their First Amendment rights.

Militant Islam has no place in its ethos for real liberty. There are progressive/liberal traditions of freedom and tolerance in Islamic history, but these have always been drowned out by voices committed to establishing a universal caliphate. One looks in vain around the globe for any Muslim-dominated country that offers full religious freedom - including the liberty to convert to another faith or leave the traditional community without fear of a fatwa.

I challenge Islamic leaders to affirm the First Amendment without qualification and to assert that complete freedom of conscience is a moral and political good. Without these assurances, tensions will only rise. It is not only Christians who are threatened by the assumptive language and sectarian demands of militants - all lovers of freedom are imperiled by intolerance. Some of my atheist friends feel persecuted by what they perceive to be a Christian-saturated culture. Several Christian friends I know feel persecuted for upholding their beliefs and values. To both groups I say beware of the real threat - a perverted interpretation of a religion with no history of anything approaching democracy.

If progressive Muslims will show courage, they will find allies with all people of conscience. The secular Left must step up and criticize some of the barbaric practices of the extremists and stop living in guilt for the colonial past. The Right must reach out and appeal to all people who affirm their core values. Most of all, Americans of all persuasions need to learn their history and rediscover the powerful principled freedoms bequeathed by our Founders.

There is no freedom without virtue and no virtue without absolute morality rooted in transcendent truth. We must recover these timeless principles or America will find herself in the clutches of religious or secular tyranny.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Action Report 3: Peace is Possible

Today at Acton I attended a lecture by Mustafa Akyol, a writer for the the Turkish Daily News and author of the forthcoming book, The Islamic Case for Freedom. He represents the most hopeful thinking I have heard from Muslims who seek to live peacefully alongside people of all faiths or none. Akyol uncovered some important historical sources of progressive Islamic thought, from the seventh to the twentieth centuries. There are multiple voices of pluralistic and tolerant thought that have been silenced by radicals throughout the centuries. He and I did not agree on every issue, but I have found a real partner for peace, a Muslim who does not want Jews and Christians in dhimmitude and rejects all forms of coercion in matters of religion.

THE issue for peace in the 21st century is creating a world where two missionary religions can live with their deepest differences, fervently carry out their missionary work and affirm rights for others that they want for themselves. Along with Imam Tahir Anwar in San Jose, CA (who I am honored to dialogue with at Apple Computer's Interfaith Panel twice a year), Akyol is a devout Muslim who respects the genius of political liberty in the US Constitution and affirms the importance of entrepreneurship and free market economies. We both agree that a free society is a virtuous society and that the way forward for the Islamic world is not Wahhabi Islamicism, but an embrace of freedom of conscience and opportunity.

Mr. Akyol shows great courage speaking in a devout Christian setting and graciously responding to the critiques and questions which are essential to understanding. A priest from Nigeria, whose parish is under siege by radical Muslims (hundreds of Christians have been killed this year as terrorists seek to impose their perverted version of Sharia Law), challenged Akoyl and all moderate-progressive Muslims to help him find a way to stop the violence. There are no easy answers as the call to "love your enemies and do good to those who persecute you" is heard in the context of wanton violence.

Peace will take courage, dialogue, economic partnerships and small steps of establishing trust. Today was a good day to hope that out of the current turmoil, trust can flourish.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Only at Action: Day 2

Today at the Action Institute I attended excellent presentations on a range of topics, from evangelical environmental and social ethics to the challenges of globalization and the need for ethical entrepreneurship as one key to liberating persons from poverty. The insights and principles were important and well-stated and I will be using this knowledge immediately in classes and communication.

What made today even more interesting was the amazing variety of people I conversed with, all of whom share a passion for integrating Christian faith with economic freedom and social justice. In the last 24 hours, I have met:

A Bolivian teacher and writer who is a devout Catholic with a deep respect for Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians. He loves God, his Church and is writing on some of the recent works of Pope Benedict. We had a delightful dinner conversation and the future of Bolivia is brighter because of his presence.

An Italian graduate student in philosophy who is passionate about clear thinking , virtuous living and seeing people use their God-given reason to create new solutions for current challenges.

A business owner who (actually) manufactures his products in Kansas. He is enthusiastic about seeing his work as a mission and service to the world.

A high-tech entrepreneur who was a member of the Swiss Guard protecting Pope John Paul II. His presentation and Acton's new initiative, "Poverty Cure," offer concrete solutions to world poverty. Prosperous nations have poured more than $2 trillion into the developing nations since WWII, with little long-term success.

An American Protestant seminary professor who is writing on ethics and global business and mentoring one of my former students.

A woman pioneering a new private school.

Leaders and thinkers from Anglican, Baptist, Congregational,Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Reformed, Pentecostal and Roman Catholic and non-denominational traditions.

I have met Black Republicans, Latina conservatives, Anglo semi-libertarians, Asian business leaders and Canadian scholars. No one is a slave to any extreme ideology or party politics. All these leaders were of one voice on the issues of honoring life from conception to coronation and preserving and enhancing traditional marriage. There is a remarkable absence of cliches. Instead, everyone is rolling up their sleeves and anxious to imagine and implement principled solutions to our economic, political and spiritual challenges.

In addition to this mosaic of personalities, I overheard intelligent conversations about faith and freedom and the utter necessity of virtue for a democratic society. Everyone is respectful of our national leaders, but the overall consensus is that our current crises stem from a combination of bad decisions, greed, governmental ineptitude and the spiritual poverty of our age.

As the dinner ended, our keynote speaker, C. William Pollard, former CEO of ServiceMaster, spoke on the "Awesome Responsibility of Leadership." His address was timeless and timely, full of enduring ideas and up-to-date insights from the front lines. One compelling notion for all Christian leaders to remember is that God expects a return on His investment in us. This return is not just about generating monetary wealth, but the ways we improved the lives of the people we led and loved.

I am a richer and wiser man, made better by "pursuing truth in the company of friends."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

24 Hours at Acton

This week I have the honor of being a Kern Foundation Fellow attending a special conference at the Acton Institute/University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The focus is the integration of Christian faith and leadership in economic, political and social arenas. All too often there is a disconnect between Sunday's religious experiences and the pressures of commerce and community Monday through Saturday.

In the first episode of the first year of the television series 24, lead character Jack Bauer said that,"Today is the longest day of my life." And for the next several years we were kept on the edge of our seats by the plots twists, layers of conspiracies and Jack Bauer's moral and relational challenges in pursuit of justice. Whether you liked this show or not, it compressed time and made all devotees wonder how much activity can be crammed into one day.

In comparison, I can say that the past 24 hours at Acton have been among the most inspirational and intense in my life of learning. From Father Sirico's memorable stories of 1950s Brooklyn life to Immaculee Iligagiza's riveting testimony of courage and forgiveness in Rwanda, I have been subject to the finest thinking on faith and society. I have met leaders in all fields from over 20 states and as many nations, from Albania to Ecuador and from Alaska to Turkey. All of us are committed to our faith and to human flourishing. Whether, Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant, participants share a deep loyalty to excellence, integrity and eternal values.

My personal motto is "Think deeply and act decisively." Acton is proof that deep thinking and decisive action are connected and crucial to the future of our planet. It is refreshing to hear intellectual giants affirm that government exists to protect God-given rights, not bestow them. It is exciting to see compassionate leaders dedicated to helping the poor affirm that free markets are the most empowering way forward, not bureaucrat-controlled enterprises. Economics is more than tax policy - it is the delightful art and science of creating wealth, serving human need and expressing our calling to create, discover and manage the wonders of the world.

In every conversation, discussion and lecture, the foundations of faith and virtue are affirmed as the essential conditions of true freedom. Freedom is not a license for anarchy and self-indulgence. Real freedom is the opportunity to realize our full destiny in the context of bringing glory to God and good to others. It is enlightening to see the rich Judeo-Christian heritage brought into focus, along with the deficiencies of the various 18th and 19th century philosophies that spawned the secular, totalitarian experiments of the 20th century, with countless dead in the name of party, race or soil.

Father Sirico's memories of Brooklyn unveil the common values held by diverse families on one block of an American city. His neighbors includes Irish and Italian immigrants, Catholics and Protestants and the "Mayor" of the block, Mrs. Rabbinowitz. Mrs. Rabbinowitz was a 70-something Jewish lady who sat on the front porch and heard and saw everything. With a single sentence she could still the course language of a dozen boys arguing over a stick ball base runner. How was this possible? How could people from very different cultures all get along? How could the voice of one old woman, threatening to tell one boy's parents of his verbal transgression, calm a crowd of adolescents? The answer is profoundly simple. All the families shared tacit values, regardless of ethnicity or religion. There was a civil center of virtue that was the glue of the community. Hard work,respect for authority, reverence for God and truth-telling were obligations, not options.

Immaculee Ilibagiza spent 91 days with seven other people hiding in a bathroom to escape the genocidal machetes in 1994 Rwanda. Today her home has been rebuilt and it is a center of forgiveness, healing and piety in her town. She has privately and publicly forgiven the man who murdered members of her family. She found in Christ and prayer the courage to choose faith, hope and love over doubt, despair and revenge. Hearing her story places all my "suffering" in perspective. My life has not always been easy, but my tribulations pale in comparison to sisters and brothers in Nazi Germany, Stalin's USSR, Mao's China, Pol Pot's Cambodia, the horrors of Rwanda and Darfur and the millions enslaved for sex or work.

24 hours of compelling testimony, insightful instruction and encouragement from new friends inspires me to greater courage and service. Stay tuned for Day Two.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Issues We Must Not Ignore

In recent dialogues with social activists, I am noting a disturbing trend among those who identify themselves as Christians and 'post-conservatives." There is a visceral fear among many devout people at being identified with the Right. This disdain for conservatism leads them to take positions they claim are compassionate and nuanced, while in fact they are violations of their deepest moral principles. My concern is that these well-meaning folks are being usurped by the Left as they react to the Right.

I see this confused compassion in the phrase, "We need to get beyond abortion and gay marriage and focus on more important things, like justice for the poor and environmental concerns." The confusion is also exposed in how the current Middle East crisis is interpreted. These compassionate post-conservatives are playing into the eliminationist anti-Semitism of radical Islam and secular Europe with their calls to punish Israel for defending herself. The same United Nations that voted for partition and the creation of a Jewish homeland in 1947 has spent the last 60 years condemning every attempt of Israel to protect herself from destruction.

We cannot ignore these three fundamental issues. There are intelligent ways to navigate toward solutions that are equitable for all and compatible with biblical faith.

Abortion is the destruction of life. In some cases it happens naturally, as in a miscarriage. In cases of the mother's life in danger, it may be a tragic moral choice, hard but necessary. The consequences of rape and incest (non-voluntary intercourse) do not have to include abortion, however, we must have compassion for the women involved who are recovering from trauma. But abortion as birth control, abortion as the removal of an inconvenience is not morally right. When people scream, "a woman's right to choose" they are forgetting about 1) the baby inside the womb (called a fetus if not wanted and a baby if desired!); 2) the father of the child; and 3) the potential for adoption.

The way forward is to nurture a culture of life that welcomes children, provides for single parents, opens doors for adoption, and protects the vulnerable while reminding us that we are not the Almighty. The same people who bemoan the forced sterilization of thousands of mentally-challenged people and particular racial and social groups from the 1890s to 1960s are forgetting that Planned Parenthood's founder was a eugenics devotee who wanted to make sure that certain classes of people did not breed! These same folks support cloning, designer babies and all kinds of "scientific" progress with no moral absolutes to guide the process.

Gay Marriage is an oxymoron. GLBT people are individuals deserving all the benefits and protections of civil society. They should be free from fear, undisturbed in private adult activity and able to form voluntary associations. But marriage, by all definitions throughout history, is a social and spiritual compact between a man and a woman that ensures the future of the family, clan, tribe, community and civilization.

The way forward includes domestic partnerships and civil unions that protect the rights of the people involved, but are not in the category of marriage. When a California legislator told a clergyman, "Give us gay marriage and we will give you a religious exemption so you don't have to perform the weddings" a sociopolitical tipping point arrived. The idea that government is now bestowing rights to religious communities instead of protecting them is a complete reversal of our Founder's vision and a total violation of our freedom of conscience.

Clergy who preach against homosexual practice must not be persecuted for hate speech. It is interesting that the far Left says nothing about the oppression of gays and women in Islamic nations while pouring vitriol on Catholic or Evangelical advocates of biblical morality. It is the Judeo-Christina ethos of freedom and tolerance, developed (sometimes haltingly, with many advances and reversals if we are honest) over that last half-millennium, that created the right to criticize. It must be noted that opponents of gay marriage and homosexual practice are NOT judging the soul or ignoring the complexities of why people feel the way they do. Biblical advocates also reject gossip and greed, extramarital heterosexual activity and other attitudes and practices destructive to relationships and spiritual vitality.

The mere presence of the state of Israel is unacceptable to the majority of Arabs and Muslims. Israel has valiantly fought off her enemies for 60 years and come to the peace table numerous times ready to end the conflicts. Nobel Peace Prizes have been (presumptively) awarded for these efforts. But in every case, militant Islamicists have subverted the process. Has Israel overreacted at times? Yes. The disaster in Lebanon in 1982 is a stain on Israel's history just as Wounded Knee troubles the American conscience. This said, Israel is the only democracy in the region, has Arab citizens and religious freedom and over and over again demonstrates her willingness to negotiate directly for peace.

The Muslim world needs to show courage and toleration and advocate two things: 1) the legitimacy of Israel's existence in secure borders and as a partner for prosperity; and 2) the ending of terrorism that kills civilians and continues the cycle of violence. A new Sadat needs to emerge who will face down Al-Queda, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Taliban and offer friendship.

Environmental sensitivity and compassion for the poor are possible without capitulating to statist socialism. We can create wealth and manage the environment. We can have private-public partnerships. We can hold capitalists accountable and streamline necessary government services. We can agitate for workers while affirming the right of owners to make a profit. We can deliver health care locally and regionally without a centralized Leviathan rationing services and providing jobs for folks with no other skills.

I urge all Christians and other friends of freedom, from all faiths or none, to keep arguing about solutions that actually work without sacrificing the virtue-based liberties that cost our Founders their "lives, fortunes and sacred honor." Ideologies of Right and Left are the enemies of good morality and theology. Atheist and fundamentalist can live as neighbors and build a better world. Jew and Muslim can be friends, civilly debating while partnering for better schools and peaceful neighborhoods.

We cannot ignore or "get past" crucial issues. We can, however, forge solutions that make our world better. Will you join me in the debate and sacrifice necessary for a better future?

Monday, June 07, 2010

Disconnected Despotism

There are two special days in the past weeks that the current Administration completely ignored. It seems that far too many Americans, awash is apathy, ignored them as well. The first is Memorial Day and the second is the anniversary of D-Day, June 6.

Barack Obama is the first President to not attend the service at Arlington National Cemetery. He decided vacationing in Chicago took precedence over both honoring the dead and leading the living in crises around the world. The lack of any attention to D-Day is also inexcusable. These two days transcend policy debates. Fallen soldiers deserve our respect.

This callous disregard for tradition and continued despotic leadership do not bode well for our future. Europe still honors the dead of WWI and a visit to Ypres and the Somme battlefield unveils a respect for history sorely needed by those in the White House. We are being led by people who came of age in the narcissistic 1970s and 1980s, with revisionist history, hatred of tradition and media-driven image-making machines. We now have people in both parties whose goal in life is power and privilege itself, rather than real service to the nation and the world.

Barack Obama misstated the facts of WWII when he commented that his grandfather helped liberate Auschwitz (the Russians were the liberators in 1945). This was later explained as a misunderstanding - Obama meant that his grandfather served with a larger Allied force that liberated camps. The inability to get basic facts straight, the continued refusal to release any personal documents (Where are you Woodward and Bernstein? Where is Daniel Ellsberg?) and the arrogant dismissal of respect for our soldiers is cause for deep concern.

By the way, I want the USA out of Afghanistan and Iraq as soon as possible and I think Europe can defend herself well. We should have rapid-deployment forces ready to combat terrorism and work only with nations who want us present. I am not a "hawk" and I am not blindly supportive of all things military. With efficiency standards in place, we can cut military spending (but only when cutting all other waste as well.) while still defending our freedom. Sometimes, like the war in Vietnam, our soldiers are placed in horrible strategic and tactical situations. Sometimes a few soldiers lose it and we must prosecute them. All this said, our men and women in uniform - past and present - deserve better leadership. It is not hard to take trips to Arlington and Normandy to convey gratitude.

A final note: Farewell, Helen Thomas - we will NOT miss you. There is no place for your eliminationist sentiments. I only hope your repentance is real and that you will build peace instead of inciting hatred.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Farewell Adam

My friend Adam Cintz died yesterday at the age of 99. His life was full and his family was near. He survived two wives and was a success in business and in the community. He was a cheerful presence to all and until recent months continued to read voraciously and tinker in his workshop. All of us will miss him deeply and my heart goes out to the family as they cope with their loss. His sons and their families loved him dearly and will carry on his legacy of bringing good to our world.

The loss of a loved one at any age is hard. Whether their life was brief or long, and whether the end came gradually or abruptly, the grief is real and it takes time for all of us to cope with the change. We are confronted with our mortality. We encounter our own faith and fears and we hug our living family and friends a bit tighter. To all who have suffered loss recently, I offer my heartfelt sympathy and prayers.

What is distinctive about Adam is that he was a Polish (and naturalized US citizen) Holocaust survivor with an amazing story of courage and survival. At some time in the future the family will publish the rich details of his life; for now, some highlights that were part of his public talks will serve to inspire our journey on this planet.

Adam's life included losing his father during World War I when he was six years old, living in abject poverty in Warsaw and Lodz, and supporting a family during the rapacious reign of the Nazis. He survived the horrors of Auschwitz and other camps and was miraculously reunited with his wife after the war. They settled in Palo Alto and San Jose and made a life for their family from 1949 to the present.

Adam was on the last train to leave the Lodz Ghetto. Summer and fall 1944 were the final months of the Final Solution and hundreds of thousands perished in the evil convulsions of the Nazi nihilism. He managed to protect his family from "deportation to the East" for five years, only to lose his eight-year-old son to the flames of Auschwitz upon arrival.

Over the years, Adam has shared his story, supported Holocaust groups and various causes. In recent years he took more time to make sure the younger generation heard the facts about his life and the six million who did not survive. Adam was a hard worker and his life was not a simplistic story. His last 60 years have been filled with laughter and tears, happiness and hurts, cherished memories and personal pain, just like most narratives of caring and thoughtful people.

Adam was neither an atheist nor particularly religious, but he was deeply connected to his Jewish identity and lived a life of hope and goodness, believing that people could make better choices in the future. He was loved by people of all faiths or none and he passionately promoted love and toleration. He disliked fanaticism of any kind and loved seeing all people do well. He loved America, flaws and all. He loved Israel, seeing it as a necessary land for his fellow-Jews, while always hoping for peace with Israel's neighbors.

With only three years of elementary schooling, Adam taught himself to read and speak English. He enjoyed learning and his home was filled with all kinds of books. He had a particular love for Holocaust and general Jewish history and testimonies.

I had the honor of spending many hours with Adam and I came away enriched by his courage, humor, insight and hope. He would greet everyone with, "My name is Adam, not the first one." He loved to tell stories, and he was a good listener and enjoyed laughing. When the tears came to his eyes as he recalled the Holocaust, he would wipe them away and resume the story - a man at peace who could still feel the losses of a century.

As I say farewell to my friend, I see qualities that I want to emulate:

First, cherish the past without being chained to it. Adam's sorrow was never far from his mind, yet he built a good life in the USA.

Second, live a life of love and treasure every day. Adam brought joy to everyone he met.

Third, keep history alive, especially defining moments. After Auschwitz, the world said, "never again." But Mao's massacres happened and Pol Pot's murders are not imaginary. Rwanda and Darfur are recent examples of our inhumanity. We must allow the past to inform our future as we humbly determine to do better.

Adam was a new friend in my life, but a soul who will stay with me. His life spanned a century of change and turmoil, progress and violence, explosive growth and unprecedented challenges. In the midst of it all, Adam loved his family and friends, shared his story and nurtured hope. I only hope I will do as well with the season I am given on earth. My love goes out to his family and the extended family of fellow-survivors who carry the burdens of history and the blessings of hope. Thank you for enriching our lives.

Farewell dear Adam. I will carry your smile and tears forward.