To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose under heaven
A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it's not too late!
When folk song writer Pete Seeger set these words from Ecclesiastes to music for The Byrds in 1965, the resulting hit song resonated with thousands of young people like me, who were increasingly alarmed by the rising tide of war in Vietnam.
Over the ensuing years, we would live through one of the most divisive and dangerous times in American history, one that saw more than 50,000 young men of my generation die on the battlefield and daily lives lived in the shadow of the threat of nuclear war even as conventional bombs fell.
Now, we stand in another frightening era lived in the shadow of the threat of terrorist attack, and I find comfort in the words that resonated then. There is a season (turn, turn, turn) — a reminder that this, too, shall pass.
As I write this, it is still a week before we elect a new president and new Congress. For a year we have been subjected to one of the ugliest campaigns in history — an election in which many people have chosen to make this a time for hate.
How ironic it is that in the season that usually brings us daily reminders of Thanksgiving and the ultimate love in all the universe, our daily discourse is so filled with hateful words, blatant dishonesty and the realities of ongoing war that we seem to have grown immune to seeing.
War in our time has become a very different thing than it was in the 1960s. In those difficult days, we lived with the draft, deferments and the lottery — not the one that today makes you a multimillionaire, but the one that made you a marine or a soldier and all too often, a body in a flag-draped coffin.
Today, we have an all-volunteer military. We have essentially turned going to war into a career field. Much of the population remains insulated from the sacrifice and the horror that military families live with every day. Most Americans feel little to no impact in our daily lives; we've factored constant war into our economy.
No matter who leads our nation as you read this, America has a long, hard road to a better place and a turn to a time for love and a time for peace.
All of us have a role to play in making that turn. We need to start with accepting our own responsibility to find our way back to being one nation, starting with finding ways to bind up the wounds of the campaign season.
We need to look within ourselves to find the gift of the Magi and offer it to our families, our friends and our political opponents.
We must remind ourselves that those with whom we disagree are people whose ideas about the best way forward may differ from the path we find best. We must find our way back to talking about the issues and problems that challenge us and working together to address them.
The people with whom we disagree are our family members, neighbors and co-workers. They are also our fellow Americans — not evil, horrible people who deserve the worst of punishments we can devise.
We need to find our way out of the nasty aftermath of this year's most uncivil discourse and back to a path that moves our lives and our country back toward better times.
In this, the season of giving, love and peace, this is my wish and my prayer for all of America.
There is a season (turn, turn, turn).