Last night's Presidential State of the Union laid out a laundry list of accomplishments and and things yet to be done. The President spoke of foreign policy victories and economic improvements at home. Things aren't "good" but they're getting better. No, not everyone is feeling it yet, but all the markers suggest slow and steady improvement -- despite partisan gridlock. The President called for investment in the national infrastructure and pursuit of clean energy. He suggested that the rich could pay more in taxes so that others could have a fairer shake (that didn't go over well with the opposition).
Now, I'm not going to rehearse the State of the Union Address, though I thought it was an excellent speech. Yes, it was a political speech -- most are and this is the beginning of a lengthy election year -- but it was also an address to the nation, a call to action on behalf of the common good.
What I do want to pick up on was the call to being a team. The President suggested that if America works together nothing can stop it's success. Whatever your view of war and the military, something in the President's analogy about team work exhibited by the military has to resonate.
These achievements are a testament to the courage, selflessness and teamwork of America’s Armed Forces. At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations. They’re not consumed with personal ambition. They don’t obsess over their differences. They focus on the mission at hand. They work together.
Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example. (Applause.) Think about the America within our reach: A country that leads the world in educating its people. An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs. A future where we’re in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world. An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded.
One of the things the President reminded us of was that no who is successful got there on his or her own. Somewhere along the way someone, likely many someones, were there to help. And very likely, the government played a role.
Those of us who watch team sports know that a team can have the best player in the world, but without a strong team that player won't truly succeed. Tom Brady is a great QB, but without good receivers and a strong offensive line, he'd be nobody. Tim Lincecum went 13-14 last year despite posting one of the best ERA's in the National League. Why so many losses? The team didn't score runs. Most of those losses came in games where the Giants scored one or fewer runs. Team work is essential.
The President pointed to the troops and commended them for their dedication and their team work -- and suggested we might benefit as a nation by following their example. Indeed, the church could learn from following their example.
Teamwork -- it is indispensable for an athletic team, for church, for nation. Does it mean we all agree? No. But it does mean that we agree to work together for the common good. It means that we learn to listen to each other. It means we put the other first by loving one's neighbor as one's self.
Whether we agree on all the particulars of the President's speech, may we agree to come together to work for the good of all. Oh, I'm not naive enough to believe that it will happen over night, but can't we begin to work together, even at the edges?