He pointed to a book on his coffee table and said, “Have you read this? The Art of the Deal." “No,” I said maybe a little too edgy. “You need to read it—it’s great.” “One of the reasons that I won’t read it is that he didn’t write it.” “But it is his book—his name’s on it.” And in his den, me sitting and him standing, there was a great divide.
Sound familiar? Of course it does. We are anything but a United States. The divisions are many. Democrats and Republicans. Trump-ites and Trump-haters. Rich and poor. Educated and the uneducated. Those with good jobs and those on welfare. Food stamps and investments. Christians and all those other types. Immigrants and those born here. White and well, multi-colored. North and South. Country and City. Whew—let’s stop there. But the beat goes on.
On this weekend when we remember 1776 and celebrate the birthday of our country—we need to ponder who we really are as a people. Remember the Preamble to the document that took our chains off.
“We the people of the United States, in Order to form a mored perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Even then, especially then, the “we-ness” was a dream. There were the newcomers and native Americans . The gentrified landowners and the sharecroppers. Slaves and Free. Religious and those considered pagans. Non-conformists and the established church folk. Those who wanted a King and those that did not. That list, even from the beginning was endless.
The “We-ness” then and now is a dream. Early on many thought that we-ness meant their kind. Even many of the framers of the Constitution owned slaves. All were white and men and from the Upper crust. They thought that only landowners should vote—if they were men.
But the “we-ness”stuck. And from then until now we have struggled to “form a more perfect union.” We have made enormous progress. People around the world really do see us as the shining city on a hill. Many see us as the last best hope for the world. And in many ways they are right. Many of us of all colors and stripes really feel a lump in our throats and the National Anthem is played or we sing: “My country ’tis of thee…”
And yet sitting in that chair across from my good friend who wanted me to read his book—in
2017 there is a great divide. Not only in his den—but across this land. And our task is to polish that old dream of “we” until it becomes more of a reality than it is today.
Nothing stays won. Justice, liberty, promoting the general welfare and insuring domestic Tranquility is the task of all of us that love this country. Mr. Trump said yes to the words written down on the oath he took in January. That pledge included all of us. But we cannot dump all our divisions on this one man. He is our leader and bears great responsibility. But—to blame him for much of the wrongness out there would be irresponsible.
We are all accountable to make “we-ness” happen in our time. We reach out to those on the
other side of the divide. We remember they are citizens too. We treat them with respect always. We call their hands when they do wrong. But we cannot forget the dream: “We, the people.”
|photo by Shinya Suzuki / flickr|
No immigrant who came here for a better life should live in fear or be turned away. No Muslim should be considered a threat simply because they walk our streets and yearn for a better life. No poor child should go hungry at school. No parent should worry if their sick child can afford health care. No family should spend sleepless nights worrying that some parent with dementia can find a decent place for care.
But no citizen should sneer at those who stand by The Art of the Deal. Those who drive cars with a “Don’t blame me” sign on their bumpers have a right to believe what they choose. Those church folk have the liberty to go to whatever church they wish or stay at home if they choose. They have a right to support the man in the White House. They can home school or send their child to a public school. Liberty reaches out in all directions. A “thank you for your service” is not near enough for those who give themselves to keep us free. This week-end reminds me of a story.
|photo by Dylan's World / flickr|
"I see Americans of every party, every background, every faith who believe that we are stronger together: black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American; young, old; gay, straight; men, women, folks with disabilities, all under the same proud flag to this big, bold country that we love. That's what I see. That's the America I know."
--Roger Lovette / rogerlovette.blogspot.com