by | Oct 10, 2018

By Bob Houghtaling

Last month I went to Summer’s End. The next morning I watched the funeral of Senator John McCain. Both, though quite different, speak to the importance of community, spirit and hope. I have waited more than six weeks to submit this poem I wrote then simply because my intent is to speak to those things often unspoken. Unspoken yet felt. Unspoken, but not forgotten. Unspoken, yet waiting to be heard in the deeds that we do and stand for. Hopefully perspective can lend credence to intent. Time can do such things.

We have had many gifts bestowed upon us and that has earned each the gift/burden of responsibility. That responsibility includes taking care of our neighbors. With an election around the corner let us consider how best to do this. Maybe a poem might help.

Who Will Lead the Way?

Who will call for hope
Who will call for dreams
Some still call for distance
At least that’s how it seems

Who will cross the aisle
Who will extend a hand
Some still fear those different
Who want to share this land

The road can offer trials
Which might test our day
When we work in harmony
Possibility becomes the way

Who will share a vision
Who will share a smile
Are we really all so different
Every woman, man and child

Who here will listen
Who here will try to see
That we’re alone together
From sea to shining sea

The road can offer trials
That might test our day
When we work in harmony
Possibility becomes the way

In a few short days, Americans all across the land will exercise their gift to vote. Choosing who will lead us is an enormous responsibility. The Poem Who Will Lead the Way? is simply a call for unity, hope and possibility. It is also a call for fairness, understanding and standing up for what is good for all. Hording resources, abusing power, scapegoating and shutting ourselves off from connecting with neighbors, is a prescription for failure. More emphasis needs to be placed on what we are for, rather than looking at ways to bring people and institutions down.

While the time we live in might be fraught with challenges, meeting these seem do-able when working together. So, let’s continue to challenge each other and advocate for what we believe is best. In doing this let us also remember that we are all neighbors. America is often referred to as an idea. Believing that this idea offers perpetual opportunity is something to cherish. Abraham Lincoln asserted that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” Great leaders remind us of this. Great leaders bring people together. Let’s let love lead the way. See you soon.

P.S. Much has changed in the last six weeks. Much more needs to change if we are to heal the many divisions our communities are experiencing.


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Heidi Johnson
Heidi Johnson
October 15, 2018 9:14 am

Well, Bob…I always knew you had many gifts, but I didn’t know that writing poetry was one of them (I’ve written poetry for close to 50 years!). Your piece here is a “call to arms,” with the “arms” we bring being our dignity, integrity, intelligent discernment and charity (many people are unaware that the word “charity” is a translation of the Greek word agapē, also meaning “love”). As a poet, I know that good poems are a window into the spirit, and an expression of our heart’s deepest desires. You are such a soldier for good in this town, and this article is testimony to that. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your poetic gift. They express your most sincere wishes for this town, and our country, to heal via honest introspection, and the will to make “government of the people, by the people, for the people” (to go back to Abraham Lincoln). And as someone who moved to East Greenwich in 1965, I miss the way we were.


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