"We are better than this, America is better than this." Reflections on John McCain and what it means to cultivate the karass.

John McCain’s memorial service provided vivid evidence that we are not alone.

For a few golden hours, partisanship was visibly suspended. We set aside the petty arguments and the self-righteous rants. We listened. We came together to commune with the honorable, the true, the noble. We did this as Americans from all walks of life. 

For a few golden hours, there was a palpable kind of relief. A sense of reconnecting with a side of our collective identity that has seemed to be dormant. 

So, we know it’s possible. 

Even at a time when it feels that we are inescapably divided, we saw evidence that it’s not true. We’re not as far apart as we think. We are capable of living out the highest values that founded and still animate our democracy. We can abide with others while upholding our ideals; ideals that are expressed differently and with great variety, but that ultimately hold us together.

As McCain himself put it in a letter he wrote days before his death:

"We are three-hundred-and-twenty-five million opinionated, vociferous individuals. We argue and compete and sometimes even vilify each other in our raucous public debates. But we have always had so much more in common with each other than in disagreement. If only we remember that and give each other the benefit of the presumption that we all love our country, we will get through these challenging times. We will come through them stronger than before. We always do."

This is what we mean by Karass.

And this is what we’re cultivating.