I so much want that image of America to be true: spacious skies, majestic mountains, fruitful plains. I so very much want sister/brotherhood to be crowned by grace and goodness. I do not want this as a cover-up for the wrongs that have been or are still being done to native peoples, to slaves, the poor, the desperate refugee and to the land itself. I want it because I cannot give up on the dream of liberty and justice for all, of a country in which differences can be celebrated and where everyone’s potential can be realized.
This American Dream. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to benefit from it, whether by chance of birth, gender, financial status, majority race or religion, need to acknowledge that for many others it has been a nightmare. We need to understand that our privilege has ridden on the backs of others. But this acknowledgement cannot be an excuse to wallow in guilt or throw up our hands in defeat. Rather, it should guide the way to reconciliation, and to a renewed commitment to the ideals that, if made into a reality for all, really do make this country great.
We are struggling so much during this time of division and hostility in our national life to hang on to this dream trying to figure out how to balance and acknowledge so many critical needs. It is very hard not to become so distraught at the daily antics of inept leaders who do not have the courage to stand up for the good of the country that we forget that it is us, we the people, for whom this nation exists.
We can all do something, and even if it seems too little, or too insignificant, do it anyway. We can make phone calls or send e-mails on a regular basis to our elected officials so they don’t forget they are accountable to us. We can gather the courage to speak to friends, relatives or co-workers if they express opinions that are prejudiced or make hurtful and damaging comments to others. We can tell the Pakistani clerk at our local convenience store that she is welcome in the community. We can listen with an open mind to African-Americans, immigrants, Appalachian coal miners, and struggling single parents when they tell their stories.
Even though it may seem so, we are not on the Titanic after striking the iceberg. But still we have to choose the role we will play. Will we be the privileged ones pushing others out of the way to jump into the lifeboats? Or the musicians trying to provide comfort even in the face of certain death? In an attempt to save ourselves, will we run past the gate holding back those labeled less important and undeserving, or will we stop and work together to break it down?
©Martha Hurwitz, 8/16/17 Inspired by Daily Word Prompt: grainy