James was walking through the High Museum of Art in Atlanta with his brother, Jonathan, when he said something truly profound to him. As they passed by the various works of art, a section of the museum filled with intricate sculptures caused them to pause and take note. In front of a statue of Balzac, Jonathan stated, “All of these statues were always inside something, another cube of stone. They always existed there in the rock, and the sculptors just saw them within.” Jonathan walked away, leaving James standing there, astounded by the insightfulness of that statement. He contemplated it in the days that followed their visit to the museum. After this period of contemplation, James finally talked with Jonathan about his quote. Jonathan revealed, to James’s surprise, that the quote came from the Sylvester Stallone cinematic touchstone “Rambo III” (as an aside to all of you who have not seen this masterpiece, please do so. It is excellent).
Colonel Sam Trautman in “Rambo III” states:
There was a sculptor. He found this stone, a special stone. He dragged it home and he worked on it for months until he finally finished it. When he was ready he showed it to his friends. They said he had created a great masterpiece, but the sculptor said he hadn’t created anything. The statue was always there, he just chipped away the rough edges.
The Founding Fathers saw the beauty within the rough stone that had been America. The America of today is not perfect. But it has undergone a developmental process with perfection in mind, and it continues to be perfected. Our sculptors worked tirelessly across decades, across mountains, across political divides to chip away the rough edges of our nation. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Theodore Roosevelt, Susan B. Anthony, Franklin Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Ronald Reagan, and countless others chipped away at our initial form to try to perfect our country. They worked under their God with the hope and faith that America, the beautiful, existed there in that stone. They had faith that despite the inequality, despite the wars, despite the injustices, despite the persecutions, despite the trials, despite the adversities, within that rock stood an America of immense beauty. We believe that the America of the new century will continue to be perfected by our sculptors. We must not lose hope. We must not give in to the falsities and deceit of which our enemies attempt to convince us. We must not give in to fear.
Fear means engendering confidence in evil. It is believing that ill and wrong forces will come to succeed. It is trusting that the powers of darkness will wreak their malevolent purposes.
Hope is good faith. It is believing in good things never seen and trusting that the powers of good will win over the forces of evil.
Let us go forward into the new century together with faith. Let us walk together humbly with our God, loving mercy and acting justly, and let us all, together, work to chip away the rough edges and slowly but surely reveal America, the beautiful.
James Gadea and Reno Varghese are both seniors in the School of Foreign Service and Exit Stage Right appears every other Sunday on thehoya.com.