Americans are ready for a new sense of civility and unity in political and nonpolitical life, U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman told an Oklahoma City crowd Wednesday night. He was the keynote speaker at the 13th anniversary celebration of the Chabad Community Center for Jewish Life and Learning in Oklahoma.
On Thursday, Lieberman also spoke at the University of Oklahoma and was to attend a ceremony inducting former state Attorney General Mike Turpin into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.
Lieberman is the former running mate of Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore, a past Democratic presidential candidate and current independent senator from Connecticut.
He said he attended the event at the behest of his sister and brother-in-law, who reside in Oklahoma City, and praised the work of Chabad in Oklahoma.
"I'm honored to be here on the 13th year of the Chabad presence here in Oklahoma City "¦ to thank them for all the work they do of spiritual outreach, interfaith outreach and service for the community in general," Lieberman said.
Rabbi Ovadia Goldman said he was honored to host Lieberman, and that the senator provides a good example for Jews across the country.
"To us, he's not only a great American hero, a great senator of the United States, but a great Jewish hero," Goldman said. "He has shown all of us, especially the young Jewish community, that one can be proud of their heritage, that one can follow along with the observances of the Torah and still make it to the highest success one aspires to."
'A BETTER FUTURE'
On Tuesday, Democrats " with whom Lieberman still caucuses, despite running as an independent in 2006 following a defeat in the Connecticut Democratic primaries " lost control of the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as some U.S. Senate and state governor's seats, including Oklahoma.
"I think one of the messages the American people were giving was that they want us to get together in Washington and work together in Washington because we're all Americans," Lieberman told reporters prior to the event. "In Washington, too much that goes on is one party against another, and we forget the people, we forget our blessed country. Religion reminds us of all we have in common: one God, all sharing a commitment to the Ten Commandments."
He said current challenges require the country's leaders to work together to provide solutions.
"It's a tough time in America: The economy's down, in a lot of places terribly. But there's nothing we can't do if we work together," he said. "This is a critical time inside our country to get our country growing again, to get jobs growing. But also, we're still involved in a life-and-death struggle with these Islamic extremists, terrorists, who continue to look for ways to kill Americans and bring down our countries and values."
Lieberman told the crowd of more than 300 who attended the celebration that party affiliation is fleeting, and that holding true to the idea of "E pluribus unum" " "out of many, one" " outlined in the U.S. Constitution was key toward making a better future.
"In Washington, we've forgotten the importance, the truth, the power of the concept of 'E pluribus unum.' Whatever the party label next to our name, whatever our ethnicity or race or gender or religion, it (the Constitution) gives us our rights, but it also should give us our unity," Lieberman said. "Compared to that powerful truth, the momentary political title we fix on ourselves "¦ it's small compared to all that. I think at this moment particularly, we should come back to that understanding.
"Not that we should agree on everything, that would be unnatural, but when we disagree, we should do so with the civility one would show to another creation of God, and also ultimately with an understanding that we're all children of the same God and, in this case, we're all damn lucky to be Americans." "Clifton Adcock