• We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately. -Benjamin Franklin, Freedom Fighter

  • We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. -Martin Luther King, Jr., Freedom Fighter

  • Let us be cautious in making assertions and critical in examining them, but tolerant in permitting linguistic forms. -Rudolf Carnap, Philosopher

  • A clash of doctrines is not a disaster—it is an opportunity. -Alfred North Whitehead, Philosopher

  • If we could read the secret history of our enemies we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility. -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Poet

  • Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. -Rumi, Mystic

  • If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things. – Rene Descartes, Philosopher

  • A house divided against itself cannot stand. -Abraham Lincoln, President

  • Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them. -Albert Einstein, Scientist

  • Be the change you want to see in the world. -Mahatma Gandhi, Freedom Fighter

Holiday Season, 2007

Peace on Earth. Good Will Toward All.

In less than two weeks, we, the people, will begin for real the task of selecting our next President.

Beginning January 3rd in Iowa and ending ten months later on election night next November, we, the people, embark upon the most awesome responsibility free people have—the responsibility to choose that man or woman we most trust to guide us through the challenges and pitfalls we see all around us, leading us, we hope and pray, to the realization of our hopes and dreams.

The founders had great faith in we, the people. Their faith was forged in their experiences in the New World. Theirs was a faith that found voice in the Constitution’s exquisite mechanism of checks and balances, with its simple Preamble of hope to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

And in less than two weeks, starting in Iowa, the time will come for us to live up to their faith.

Being human, we will, of course, vote our own self interest. The founders understood this, as they understood human nature; that this was OK, as Rabbi Hillel reminded us more than 2,000 years ago: If I am not for myself, who will be?

But there’s an interesting twist here, one the founders also understood very well; a twist that takes us back to the meaning of the Holiday season. The Holiday season – with its message of Peace and Goodwill – is a reminder that our own self-interest is inextricably bound up with the self-interest of our neighbors.

For how are we to achieve Peace and Goodwill? Is it to be achieved by the victory of one faction over another? Are the losers in such a battle simply to roll over and submit, like a pet dog that discovers he’s not the alpha-male? Where is the goodwill in that? And how long can peace last where there is no goodwill?

No … peace and goodwill are not to be achieved by the win-lose victory of one faction over another.

If we are to achieve peace and goodwill, we must do it some other way. And that leads us right straight back to the founders and beyond.

We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.
Benjamin Franklin

Set aside for a moment, in this season of reflection, the culture wars and all the other differences that divide us.

Focus instead on what unites us.

There is much we share, much we, the people, have in common.

For the most part, we all want the same things. We want safety and security. We want the opportunity to work, to earn a living for ourselves and our family, to contribute to a better world. We want to fall in love and create a family. We want to live together in our community, happy in the knowledge that we are bound by the ties of family and friends. We want love and affection. And we want to feel like we belong.

Politically, even as we want to belong, we also want to be free. Most importantly, we want the right to believe what our spirit sings to us, and we want to be secure that this right is protected, even if it is not fully respected.

We all want to partake of the blessings of liberty, for ourselves and our posterity.


Love thy neighbor as thyself. That which is hateful to you, do not do to another.

Perhaps what we, the people have most in common is our belief in the golden rule. The golden rule in one form or another is found in every major religious tradition on the planet. It is a core value not only of Christianity and Judaism, but Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Confucianism as well. A Native American proverb says it most pragmatically: The best place to keep surplus meat is in the belly of your neighbor. Feed your neighbor when he’s hungry and he’ll feed you when it’s you who are hungry.

The golden rule was discovered by sages during times of war and violence, during times when old values were breaking down and new ones were needed. The golden rule solved the challenge of controlling aggressive behavior by emphasizing our human connectedness, the compassion we have for one another.

Two thousand years after Jesus and Hillel, in another period of war and violence, a great American President articulated the same basic truth:

If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. Therein is a drop of honey that catches his heart, which is the high road to his reason, and which, when once gained, you will find but little trouble in convincing his judgment of the justice of your cause, if indeed that cause be a just one.

Abraham Lincoln


If we, the people, are to secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity, our objective must be nothing less than to live by the golden rule. For without liberty for all, there can be liberty for none.

This simple wisdom can serve to guide us through next year’s elections, the wisdom that says “We are friends. Yet we have differences. Let us open our hearts and our souls to each other, sharing our dreams and our fears. Let us reason together, as free men and women, trusting that, in our mutual friendship, in the spirit of liberty, we will find our common ground. And in that common ground, let us do great things together.”

Let freedom ring.

Copyright © 2007. Stan Stahl. All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted to republish this essay in its entirety provided its source is identified asThe Agnostic Patriot at www.agnosticpatriot.org and this copyright is included.

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