As our nation becomes ever more polarized, I'm finding comfort in a poem by Robert Frost, "Choose Something Like a Star." First published in 1943, the poem begins with the poet imploring the star to "Say something to us we can learn/By heart..." But all the star reveals is, "I burn." The poet asks for more. Still, the star remains silent until, at last, it asks something of us, its viewers on Earth: Rather than allowing ourselves to be "swayed" by passion to idolatry or brutality, it asks that we "choose something like a star/To stay our minds on and be staid."
Too often, we allow ourselves to obsess on the latest news, the latest outrage to the ideas and alliances to which we claim affinity. To stay our minds on a star means to hold to more lasting truths--our common humanity and mortality in the face of an indifferent universe--and to dedicate our thoughts, speech, and actions to working together to foster harmony in our spheres of influence. So tonight, set aside a moment to silence the news. Go outside, breathe deeply, and contemplate a star.
(Photo of "Stars in the Night Sky" by George Hodan is in the public domain. Thank you, George, for sharing your beautiful image. "Choose Something Like a Star" is from Robert Frost's collection Come In and Other Poems, published in 1943.)