The Common Good American Spirit Award
13th Mar, 2011
Remarks by Patricia Duff
“Sometimes these days worrying about politics seems like a trivial affair of getting misbehaving children to play fair in the sandbox. But then there are events with real weight, with real meaning, with real consequence that shock us into the realization that politics do matter, I mean really matter –such as when we find ourselves stunned by the deadly and bloody attack on regular Americans exercising their simple democratic freedoms, in Arizona where Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 19 of her fellow countrymen were seriously injured or killed… Or watching with great trepidation and great hope as hundreds of thousands of Egyptians, across gender, age or economic lines, take to the streets to seize control of their government and their own destiny.
These are events that bring reality into sharp focus. Politics not only matters; sometimes, even, it’s a matter of life, and death. Here with The Common Good, we try in our own small way to focus attention on the things that do matter.
We are about re-invigorating a vibrant, working democracy in our great country. At its most basic that means advancing a more civil dialogue than we’ve seen in recent years — dialogue that allows people to break out of the box to seek solutions beyond dogma and beyond anger. Because we know that important decisions and critical problems left to another day or another election doesn’t work — not just because overblown rhetoric undermines debate and understanding, but because it undercuts Americans joining forces with a common purpose for The Common Good.
Part of the American tradition of democracy is the small gatherings that become larger gatherings that, ultimately, can become movements. We’ve been engaging in small groups with influencers and leaders over the past three years to urge civil dialogue — and those efforts have begun to resonate in the larger picture. In the coming weeks and months, The Common Good will be initiating a larger grass roots effort to inspire and empower more Americans to play their part in our great democracy. We will take our forums to Town Halls at college campuses in other cities around the country; We will start The Common Good chapters to create a more thoughtful political process; We will register voters and We will promote everywhere the idea that everyone can –and should – count.
As the cradle of democracy, we are the light of hope for so many in our country and around the globe. We must all be democracy’s caretakers as well. We can each make our lives a worthy expression of leaning into that light. We hope you will join with us. – Patricia Duff