August 12, 2019 | Reading Time: < 1 minute

The moment we break faith

I can’t stop thinking about this poem by James Baldwin. So much of liberal democracy entails trust in each other, in our willingness to contract and covenant with each other, and in our obligations to respect and honor each other for our collective benefit. To have a democracy, we must have faith. When we break…

Share this article

I can’t stop thinking about this poem by James Baldwin.

So much of liberal democracy entails trust in each other, in our willingness to contract and covenant with each other, and in our obligations to respect and honor each other for our collective benefit.

To have a democracy, we must have faith.

When we break faith, we turn friends into enemies—and over time ourselves against ourselves.

—JS

FOR NOTHING IS FIXED

For nothing is fixed,
   forever and forever and forever,
it is not fixed;
   the earth is always shifting,
the light is always changing,
   the sea does not cease to grind down rock.
Generations do not cease to be born,
and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have.
   The sea rises, the light fails,
   lovers cling to each other,
   and children cling to us.

The moment we cease to hold each other,
   the moment we break faith with one another,
the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.

John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition open and available to all. Find him @johnastoehr.

9 Comments

  1. Nat Irvin II on July 30, 2021 at 7:52 am

    👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿

  2. realsaramerica on July 30, 2021 at 7:52 am

    This is from a blog post I wrote when I was taking my second kid on the “college death march” in 2013:
    “This is my second child, and I’ve sat through enough of these admissions talks now to know what college admissions officers are saying. And I have to question some of the values that I see being beaten into our kids’ heads in these college admissions sessions. For example, if I have to sit in another admissions session saying that they want kids who have held leadership positions, I might well stand up and scream, “HOW THE HELL ARE ALL OF THESE KIDS SUPPOSED TO HOLD LEADERSHIP POSITIONS? THERE AREN’T ENOUGH CLUBS IN ALL THE SCHOOLS FOR EVERY SINGLE KID TO BE A LEADER?” And what message is that giving kids? That NOT being the CEO is failure? Really? There are plenty of CEOS whose tenure could be viewed as a failure. One can be a leader in so many different ways, without holding an official title.” American businesses and political leaders have been pushing the individual uber alles narrative for decades (meanwhile cutting civics instruction because it’s not on the standardized tests), and now we wonder why our institutions are broken. It’s not rocket science. Our “greed is good” propaganda has come back to bite us in the butt.

    • John Stoehr on July 30, 2021 at 7:52 am

      Thank you so much for sharing this!

      • realsaramerica on July 30, 2021 at 7:52 am

        Here’s the link to the full post, which was questioning what “college and career ready” (as pushed by Bill Gates et al) really means. As I wrote about several times when I was a columnist, Gates Foundation left out the third “c” – CITIZENSHIP. One of the most important objectives of public education is to create educated, engaged citizens. The narrow focus on “college and career” readiness, combined with the obsession with tying everything to standardized testing, resulted in that very important C dropping off the curriculum.

    • Jeff Baker on July 30, 2021 at 7:52 am

      Your point is well-taken. I did want to point out the example I read about of a young man who applied to an Ivy League college (don’t remember which one) and wrote an essay on how good of a follower he was. He was admitted and got to have a talk with the dean of admissions, who said he was the only applicant who had explicitly identified as a follower. But having written that out, it just lends further credence to your point!

      • John Stoehr on July 30, 2021 at 7:52 am

        This is a fabulous anecdote. Thank you.

Leave a Comment





Want to comment on this post?
Click here to upgrade to a premium membership.

© 2021 The Editorial Board.. All Rights Reserved.