Glenn had a sincere look on his face and honesty resonated in his voice.
“I don’t know what I could have done differently!” he said during a discussion about his interaction with political adversaries.
“But …” he paused.
I could see the wheels turning. There was a “180” coming. I could tell.
“I know what I haven’t tried!”
Glenn’s breath stopped short, as if he had just received a wonderful surprise. I watched realization startle his eyes and then manifest into a glow on his face.
“I can change my approach,” he said. “I can look inside. I can become a better person! I can watch every word that comes out of my mouth so I don’t say something inflammatory.”
There was a hitch in his voice the next moment. It was almost a hiccup.
“That’s really, really hard!” Glenn said.
“Well, yeah!” I said to myself.
You see, I’ve suffered from “foot-in-mouth” disease my entire life. So I understood well what he said. I’ve also seen how hard it is for nearly everyone during “political” season to keep their words in check, which has revealed deepening discontent everywhere. But as demonstrated by Glenn, it has also revealed and opened an opportunity for discovery.
While reading some classic American literature, such as “The Last of the Mohicans,” I discovered something forgotten about our shared history. It is an idea 18th- and 19th-century writers called “The Great Experiment.” It was also, at times, referred to as “American Exceptionalism.”
The commonly held idea at the time was not that Americans were better than everyone else. Instead, it questioned whether or not a person could govern him or herself. The idea of America was, and still is, a great experiment to see if we can govern ourselves.
Every one of us seeks new discoveries in life, especially things we desire, like, for example, new fashion, seashore retreats and entertainment. But these are common and easily obtained.
What is uncommon is to seek and find more quiet and freedom through exploration of self. Such self-examination has the possibility to take us to greater depths of joy and freedom — and self governance — than we have imagined so far. It is an experiment we can all choose to try.
“I know what I haven’t tried.” Glenn’s words confirmed in my ears. “I can change my approach. I can look inside. I can become a better person! I can watch every word that comes out of my mouth so I don’t say something inflammatory.”
But, “That’s really, really hard!”
I say, that’s what makes it exceptional.
Will you join us and take part in “The Great Experiment?”
Lynn Butterfield is a resident of Erda and a managing broker for a real estate company.