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Opinion: Joe Biden Is a Man of Light in a Time of Darkness

by on October 15, 2020 5:00 AM

 

What I’ve written here represents my thoughts and not that of this site. Certainly, some people will disagree with me, and I’m self-aware enough to know my thoughts or vote carry no more weight or importance than anyone else’s. But in this time in our history I felt compelled to speak up.

On Nov. 3, I will vote for Joe Biden and not against anyone. It is a vote for a united future, to renew our continuing journey toward the “more perfect union” promised centuries ago. My motivation to vote also comes from a belief that we fly only one flag for our country. There are no names on that flag, just 13 stripes and 50 stars.

But it is even more than that.

In 2013, I was in Vice President Joe Biden’s office talking about a potential political career with some advisers.

While it was heady stuff then, that was a part of a darker time in my life. Joe Biden pulled me aside to talk about the difficult public fight I’d helped take on for my family. And while the specifics of that conversation will respectfully stay between us, his theme remains important.

He talked about his personal setbacks, sharing how he got back in the ring despite a chorus of naysayers.

As I look at where we are as a nation and parallel where I was at that time, I understand why Joe Biden’s presidency is important for America.

Biden is a man of light in a time of darkness, a fighter in times of challenge. Biden’s battles through personal adversity and for this nation as vice president gave him understanding of the pain of our times. He understands that America’s strength comes through one another, not at the expense of one side over another.

Biden knows that no side gets their way all the time or everything they want. Mutual respect and compromise forged our nation from our first days. But he also knows that the ideals of equality, opportunity and fairness must never be compromised.

His career has been marked by a belief that hope overcomes fear, that unity destroys discord. He points to the promise of a new dawn expressed in Hebrews 11:1:  “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

That conviction of faith in things unseen is fundamental to Biden’s leadership.

For years as a coach, we understood that a team is only as fast as our slowest, as strong as our weakest and as smart as the one who knows the least. Joe Biden will be a leader who understands that those same principles apply to our country. 

We can only rise as high as we lift the most vulnerable among us. That is not socialist dogma, but rather it is among the guiding principles taught in the faiths of Christians, Jews and Muslims.

From farms to factories and from small towns to cities many people in America are hurting. And the Bible tells us “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” That should drive us all. 

How can one posture to love God and country yet turn their back on others?

Our nation has always been at our best when we look out for one another. When people suffer loss, we pick them up. We’re made whole when families have food and health care they can afford, when the dreams of education for a better life are not out of reach and when our country truly serves those who served. We are truly equal when all can safely walk the streets because hope’s light has forever banished the darkness of hate and prejudice. And we are all healed when we shake the scourge of addiction plaguing so many. 

Certainly, every candidate by nature of their humanity, is flawed. What matters are the ideals to which they speak and their actions toward their fellow brothers and sisters.

That is what sets Joe Biden apart in this campaign. He has built bridges of consensus, not walls of isolation. He wants us to look toward each new dawn as a time of hopeful optimism and opportunity. He gives voice to aspirations of what we can be, rather than motivate by fear and shadowy false conspiracies.

The people who fought to free our nation and who fought to save that union, they surely had hesitation in their hearts. But their realized dreams are what forged this nation’s path. And in our current times the people who have peacefully stood for justice and equality, they too are looking toward better days.

And while many describe Joe Biden as a man of common decency, he is also a man of uncommon faith, of uncommon love for this country and his fellow Americans.

For these challenging times of darkness, we need someone who has helped lead this country through hell before. We need a leader secure enough to know that equality, integrity and the rule of law are the basis of true American greatness. We need someone who knows our ideals are not commodities and that public service is not some transactional enterprise to benefit the few over the many.

Above all in a time of darkness, we need a person of light.


 

 



State College native and Penn State graduate Jay Paterno is a father, husband and political volunteer. He’s a frequent guest lecturer on campus and at Penn State events and was the longtime quarterbacks coach for the Nittany Lions. His column appears every other Thursday. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JayPaterno
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