A maverick is defined as an unorthodox, or independent-minded person. On Saturday, August 25, we lost America’s Maverick, Senator John McCain. With his loss comes an incredible loss for our country, a country that is very much in need of his presence.
For the past few years, the divisiveness that has plagued America has been toxic. Our feeds are full of hateful speech and intolerant opinions. We’ve become so self-focused and condemning of the other that we have lost the desire to see the beauty in our own diversity, and the ability to compromise for the good of the whole.
There is no better patriot than John McCain, a man whose love for America only strengthened when he was taken prisoner during war. He championed causes that were bigger than him and fought to uphold his values and ideals because he believed they are what made America the greatest country in the world. He could have easily fell into the sensationalism and mudslinging when his opponent in the 2008 presidential election was labeled an Arab, but he stood and defended a man who he knew as decent, and a family man – even if they disagreed on fundamental issues.
John McCain’s example was truly what Americans should strive to be. He was never shy about his beliefs, but was willing to compromise for the good of the people he represented. He was willing to discuss and never belittled or humiliated. His integrity was incorruptible. His patriotism was unshakeable. His dedication was indestructible.
And now that our country grieves the loss of a man who was our American exemplar, I have a wish list for America that I believe is true to John McCain’s work, spirit and beliefs.
I wish that Americans would begin to respect each other, again. We may just learn that while different, we all have more in common than we think.
I wish that Americans would not shy away from healthy and civil discussion. We may just learn and appreciate beliefs and values that differ from our own.
I wish that Americans would embrace more compassion and empathy toward one another. We may just discover our own blessings and realize the battles that others are facing.
I wish that America would celebrate its diversity and becomes more inclusive of people no matter their sex, skin color, religion or sexual orientation. We may become more informed and understanding of walks of life different than our own.
I wish America rediscovers its search for truth and doesn’t settle for the words of hysteria, bigotry and manipulation. We may just find we don’t need to condemn others to lift ourselves up. We may just realize we are all equal.
I wish America will work toward solving the issues that continue to plague our society. We may finally reach a world that is safer, respectful and compassionate.
I wish America will be open to the right to protest, even when the protest goes against the country itself. We may realize we are not perfect, but that our country is so great it is worth improving and strengthening.
I wish America will respect and work for the CEO in the same way they work for the veterans, nurses, teachers, and janitors. We may just understand everyone’s importance in society.
I wish America will work towards healing mental illnesses with the same tenacity as physical ones. We may just understand and create a healthier way of life for all.
I wish America will work for its young people, appreciate them and give them the best chance for a successful future. We may create a strong trajectory and progression for all future generations.
I wish America will appreciate its history and its founding once again. We may just realize we, individually, are no better than the other and that we all have a place at the great American table. We can make this country one that will guarantee everyone the chance of a wonderful life and happiness.
This wish list is one John McCain represented and worked toward, and in a world where our values are constantly challenged and fought to extinguish, I hope we all will take his example as one to be the best Americans and create the best America possible.
As our American Maverick said, we are Americans first, Americans last, and Americans always.