I just listened to the eulogy for John Lewis delivered by former President Barack Obama. I learned a lot about John Lewis’s life, about his longstanding fight for equality and his deep-seated belief in the power of the people to preserve our democracy. President Obama described John Lewis as “a good, kind and gentle man who has believed in us even when we haven’t believed in ourselves.” It was a powerful eulogy and one that spoke of our need as a people to stand together to fight injustice and to work hard to make America live up to its highest ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all.
I searched a bit on the Internet while listening and found a quote from John’s 2012 memoir, Across that Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change. He writes:
Anchor the eternity of love in your own soul…Lean toward the whispers of your own heart…Release the need to hate, to harbor division, and the enticement of revenge…but when it is your time don’t be afraid to stand up, speak up, and speak out again injustice.
I was struck by those word, “release the need to hate, to harbor division, and the enticement of revenge.” There is so much of that right now in our country. I needed to read those words and be reminded that it is through love not hate that we grow and change and become better.
I also read the New York Time’s op-ed that John Lewis wrote and asked to be published on the day of his funeral. There were so many wonderful parts of this essay that it was hard to pick just one quote, but I decided to pick the way below:
Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.
Yes, my friends, let’s get back to building that “Beloved Community.” We are a good people and we all want the same thing: to live in peace in this wonderful United States of America where people like John Lewis, the grandson of slaves, can become a United States Representative. We have to do our part to remind ourselves and each other that we are UNITED not divided in our love of our country and its democratic principles.
May John Lewis rest in peace. May the ideals that he spent his lifetime preserving remain alive, well and in good supply through the help of us all.
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A lovely tribute. Yesterday was indeed a day of eloquence. I think only the hardest of hearts wasn’t stirred.
Thank you, Judy. And, yes, yesterday gave me hope.
Thanks for trying to capture a bit of John Lewis, his life and legacy. This chicken-hearted soul of mine wants to recall his words, “when it is your time don’t be afraid to stand up, speak up, and speak out again injustice.”