Thursday, November 04, 2004

Sometimes, you start in the beginning...

There once were a tree and a boy.

The boy told the tree, "Grow!" And the tree asked, "How tall?" And it opened its branches and stretched out as if to hug the heavens themselves.

And the tree told the boy, "Dream!" And the boy asked, "How big?" And he closed his eyes and let his mind explode across time and space and felt a universe he could not know.

The boy told the tree, "Shine!" And the tree asked, "How bright?" And the tree thrust its leaves forth; they stole the countryside in miraculous beauty.

And the tree told the boy, "Think!" And the boy asked, "How deep?" And the boy thought long of the great philosophies and reflected.

In his reflection, the boy bore a question, the sweetest fruit of all answer-seeking. So, for once, he did not tell the tree what to do, nor ask him how to do it, but inquired as to why. "Why, oh tree, do you not ask me to grow or shine, as I do you? Why must I dream and think?"

"In bright summers," began the tree, "I may open my branches and touch the Gods themselves...I may gleam like a star on earth. But the winters do come, they do always come, and then my branches will surely falter under the weight of the snow and blast of the wind...My leaves will fall, they will leave me naked, and neither strength nor beauty will be mine. But then, even in the darkest of nights, when the icy gusts waft up against my shivering trunk, I may dream of triumphs ahead...I may think upon truths to sustain me. And as long as even a stump remains of me, I might dream of recovery and think upon the road to it..."

Democrats, this may not be the season to grow and shine, but it, like all seasons, is one to dream and think. And without the distractions of ephemeral success, the stark realities of consistent frailty become topics on which to dream long and think hard.

There is weakness in the West. There is weakness in the South. And clearly, there is weakness in the center.

For the nation, this year does not promise any new beginnings. It is a continuation of a path with which more agree than I would have suspected. However, for liberalism, for the mentality of freedom and justice and the right proportion of defiance that built this country in all the times of which we can be proud and saved it in all the times of which we cannot...For this liberalism, there may be a new birth. It need not be dilute or afraid or weak, but it must be compassionate and charismatic and transcendent. We cannot forget the rural spots that speckle our nation, embracing only the cosmopolitan and the initiated. We cannot play the game of electoral arithmetic only to immediately subtract whole regions. We cannot cater to the few--We must connect with the many.

So here we are, as we have been so many times in the history of this amazing country, armed with naught but a dream and a thought. Perhaps it's a beginning, and I've started at the right place, or perhaps mine is a mid-sentence interruption of a speech that's droned on for too long. If it is, that's ok. I don't mind. It is time to speak up.

Next Scheduled: A Few Days Wiser: What Went Wrong


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