Backbone, Mind, and Heart

04/03/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Though the last thing President Obama needs right now is more advice from more people, all of it differing, concerned Americans find it difficult not to try to find a key to governing in this new age--not for his sake, but for ours. Metaphors are great tools for teaching and stimulating thinking. And one of the metaphors for America right now is the human body.

It is fashionable in the political realm to talk about "investing in America's future." That is the key to our nation's progress and our children's hope. But as individuals we rarely talk about investing in ourselves. For our physical ailments we use health terms. Think of present day America in those terms. We need to heal our backbone, our mind, and our heart.

Our backbone, the spine of the nation, is our transportation system, our energy systems, our financial systems, and our communications systems. They represent our critical infrastructure and all need to be transformed. Some of that is underway. But much more repair needs to be made on railroads and highways. Energy has to be made greener and more sustainable. Finance has to be brought back under fair rules. High speed communications have to spread throughout every part of the nation.

Our nation's mind includes its education systems, K-through life, our laboratories, our libraries, and every facility, private and public, that helps people to learn. Jefferson said we couldn't separate democracy from education and, of course, he was right. A strong national backbone won't help much unless the nation's mind is working creatively.

The nation's heart is the physical and mental health of its people. Regardless of party, we simply have to create a health system that is inclusive, affordable, and accessible. We all know that preventive health, exercise, diet, and check ups, saves enormous amount of money and human resources and makes us all more productive.

But our heart is also our spirit. Repair, maintain, and constantly modernize our backbone structures. Expand the human mind in every way we can. Build up healthy Americans. But somehow, Mr. President, we pray that you will find a way to heal our national spirit, to help us live together better, to lift up the spirit of our national community once again. Help us recapture the better angels of our nature.

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