A Prayer for Our Country

David Kellogg
Oct 25, 2016 · 2 min read

Oh, G-d, Who placed in our hands our destiny as individuals and a nation, help us — and the leaders we chose — create a country worthy of You.

— Help us build a country that brings out the best in us all.

Free us from the temptation to believe real problems can be solved without gut-wrenching choices.

— Help us tolerate the complexity and contradictions that come with our search for answers.

Because You created us in Your image, we all reflect different aspects of Your goodness. Help us feel secure in our differences so we may strive to banish hatred and hostility among us.

— Help us remember individual interests will always collide with those of many others. Free us from the myth that one solution can be right for all of us. Teach us that a partial solution may be better than no solution.

Hold us accountable for how we hold our leaders accountable. Help us distinguish between human flaws and flawed leadership.

— Remind us that leaders are not perfect. Neither are we.

Help us remove unfair obstacles from the path of those who wish to lead. Leaders are in short supply — even Moses doubted his own qualifications.

— Teach us to revere public service as a high calling, and to honor those who pursue it.

Teach our leaders it is good for us to know the truth, and there are few simple truths.

— Don’t let us believe them when they say our most selfish impulses are reflections of high moral principle.

Make us uncomfortable when we think aiding one person is not grand enough to warrant our effort.

— Make us uncomfortable when we think that one soul really is the whole world, and we let ourselves off the hook for the other millions.

Help us build this country into an example to the world. A country that honors us as individuals. A country that reveres the rule of law — protecting the rights of the few against infringement by the many, and the rights of the many against infringement by the few.

— Help us build a country that brings out the best in us all.

DK (January 2001)

David Kellogg

Written by

Was: long-time pub. of @ForeignAffairs, @CFRorg. Is: teaching engagement at @columbiajourn & trying new ways (NLP, etc.) to cover “wicked problems” like Climate

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