McCain’s lessons of service and civility

Since the passing of Sen. John McCain last weekend, his service-above-self lifestyle has been the focus of many stories told about him. That characteristic was displayed in his military service and political involvements throughout his career. It’s why he’s referred to as an American hero.

McCain wasn’t called an American hero because he did everything perfectly, but because in many ways he showed he cared more about serving the country than he did about his own interests.

“I have made mistakes, but I hope my love for America will be weighed favorably against them,” McCain wrote in his farewell statement.

His legacy is a reminder that there’s more to life than ourselves. It’s a lesson that’s important to all and especially young people, who are the future of our communities.

Every individual has an obligation to leave the world a little bit better through whatever means they are able. That might be through a career, volunteering or everyday kindness.

One of the ways McCain worked to make the world a better place was through civility. Some of the most prominent stories memorializing him have told how party lines and political rivalry did not outweigh civil discourse.

Civility doesn’t mean that we don’t stand up for what we believe in. Rather, civility means that we fight for what we believe in even when it isn’t always easy and we do so while respecting others who may not agree with us.

When we isolate ourselves from other views and shut out anything we don’t agree with, which is easy to do in the digital age, we are only hurting ourselves. We don’t advance society as a whole when we only operate in parts.

May we all be inspired to leave a legacy of service and civility.

“To be connected to America’s causes — liberty, equal justice, respect for the dignity of all people — brings happiness more sublime than life’s fleeting pleasures,” McCain wrote in the farewell statement. “Our identities and sense of worth are not circumscribed but enlarged by serving good causes bigger than ourselves.”


‘The future is bright’ is a bi-monthly column from

T-R News Editor Emily Barske focusing on young people, innovation and civil discourse.

Have a suggested topic or feedback?

Contact her at