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Having just passed my 74th birthday, I am pleased to be still feeling like a student of life, self and others; full of curiosity, knowing what I do not know and finding myself living with more questions than ever. Maybe I am regressing.  I keep hearing myself asking, “Why?” “What does that mean?” “How does that work?” “Who or what is God?” “Is this what the world and we are supposed to be like?”

As a toddler I was far from being a philosopher but my questions then and now could all be titles in that section of any library. Like everyone else I appreciate answers but, looking back, I have learned that most answers I have grabbed onto eventually lead to other questions. There are absolutes, certainly, but they are few and far between. I would like to think that good is good and evil is evil but I have found in others so many differing definitions of those concepts that I am ultimately left working out my own.

With politics I feel the same way. Left or right, liberal or conservative, pro-life or pro-choice, Democrat or Republican meant little to me early on and in a sense still do, if only because I am something of both. (Why do I feel guilty writing that?) While admitting a reluctance to be labeled or categorized, I do not flinch when I confess to being independent, generally mistrusting of politics and somewhat a dreamer about the ideals of democracy.

The Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and countless voicings of similar sentiments throughout our still-young history resonate through the corridors of my soul like leather heels on marble floors, especially in these toughest of times. I believe that what we have as a nation is too good to ruin, though not yet good enough to guarantee against the dangers of ego, self-interest and the seductions of power.

I believe that presently our country is at a turning point in its young growth. The one question I am living with more than others right now is “Are we finally going to be who we say we are?” while realistically knowing the answer is nowhere in sight. The issues before us – health-care, war and foreign policy, our environment, immigration, the economy, to name a few – are far too complex to be solved quickly or easily. But my question, I believe, is at the very heart of each of them.

Is there any better way to challenge our leaders and lawmakers than to face them with the same question? I for one would sleep more comfortably knowing it is theirs as well as mine. Barely into my 75th year, with all that I have seen and all the challenges before us, I can not begin to imagine how and where our country will be in another 75. But if we – all of us – stick to honoring the dreams of our forefathers, “how” will be better than this, and “where” will be on the mountaintop.

The gift of life is being itself; the challenge of being is becoming. Take a peek: http://www.charleywilks.blogspot.com.