Healing the nation's wounds

By Suhail Khan

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds”

(Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865)

It’s finally Election Day, and while it’s a cliche that this is the most important election of our lifetimes, given our current challenges, few would argue that, in this instance, it’s actually true. There’s no doubt, much at stake.

We continue to face many major trials; the COVID 19 pandemic, unemployment, poverty, racial disparities and the opioid crisis and a number of global threats. These and other hereto unforeseen serious issues will continue to demand courageous and thoughtful leadership and importantly, some degree of national unity.

And yet it’s undoubtedly a very divided time. Across our country, we find ourselves pulled apart on issues of partisan politics, race, gender, economics, geography and even culture. These divides are evident in the headlines, in our conversations online, around the family table, on the street and have often descended into violence, including in our own neighborhoods.

Emotions are running high, nerves are frayed and fewer and fewer Americans believe in our long-standing institutions. Indeed, it often appears we’ve retreated to our own tribes, desperately seeking comfort and safety in friends who wear our jersey, states that match our politics and media that does less to inform but more to reinforce our respective worldview. We’re often trying less to learn but to survive the onslaught of the other team, whomever we may define that other team to be.

It may seem an impossible task—unifying often disparate Americans in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges—but we’ve done it before. Over two centuries ago, a rag-tag band of colonies cast off the yoke of monarchy to birth an exceptional nation based on human endeavor and equality. The Civil War tested that proposition, and after a bloody conflict that often pitted brothers against one another, the shame of slavery was abolished even as discrimination continues. But our nation persisted and even flourished.

We prevailed in two major world wars, survived the Great Depression, beat the “Spanish” flu, polio, emerged from the often violent tumult of the late sixties, the Watergate scandal, the Cold War and most recently, the protracted confusion of the 2000 elections and the tragedy of the attacks of 9/11.

Time and time again, regardless the magnitude of the challenge, we’ve managed to overcome these trials with grit, determination and resilience. And while we often make mistakes along the way, ultimately we’ve triumphed and continue to flourish. I’m confident there is nothing that can extinguish the courage, tenacity and innovation of the American spirit.

Whomever prevails in today’s elections, I hope & pray that we are able to come together to proceed as one nation—diverse, boisterous, loud and opinionated, but no doubt united as one American nation.

Suhail A. Khan serves on the Board of the American Veterans Center and as a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Global Engagement, a Christian think tank dedicated to promoting religious freedom.