Greetings, good morning, and Happy New Year from the NCR where one extreme storm after the next serves as a reminder that climate crises are our new reality, changing the way we work, play, and live.
But climate concerns are far from the only global challenge with which we are confronted in 2024. This year will be an extraordinary test of democracy as 50 countries representing approximately five billion people will conduct elections. As they do, citizens should be ever mindful that Moscow, Beijing, and Tehran will be executing a series of disguised and some not so well disguised disinformation campaigns. Their intent is not only to manipulate the electoral process but also to sow division within nations and foster discord between them. In facing these challenges, our resilience and unity become paramount in navigating the complexities of the new year.
Here at home, we are being confronted by these same threats. We must remain vigilant and resolute ensuring that our information is coming only from trusted and verified sources. We also must recognize and respect points of view that are different from our own. Disinformation and lack of open communication will take a serious and potentially fatal toll on our democracy if we are not cautious. This darkness can be successfully illuminated only by transparent, honest, and respectful discourse.
Darkness has always existed. At times it is confronted and at times it is enabled, but it never quite goes away. Recently, I was reminded of, and reread, the poem written by the German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller. Its sentiment has never been more relevant than it is today.
First, they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
No matter your party, race, religion, gender, or ethnicity, it is essential we all participate in the electoral process. For more than 250 years, the strength of this great nation has been built on an incredibly diverse population that is united in its commitment to protect and defend the constitution. Too many have offered, what President Lincoln called “their last full measure of devotion” so that we may have freedoms, no matter how imperfect they may be. We must preserve our democracy to both honor those who came before us and to protect those who follow.
With fewer than ten months to go before the elections, to paraphrase the wisdom of Sir Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.” Yes, we face darkness, but the eternal optimist in me believes that united, we can illuminate the path forward through these complex times.
Please feel free to pass this content along to your colleagues, friends, and family. I also encourage you to send me your content suggestions as well.
In the meantime, I hope the New Year brings you and your loved ones all the health and happiness you desire.
Stay safe and healthy,
Bridge the Divide