The America I grew up in was one in which yelling racial epithets at school children was supposed to be a horrific part of a shameful past that we should acknowledge, rectify and strive not to relive. It was one in which we acknowledged that the safe haven many of our ancestors found on these shores came at a terrible price for the people who already lived here and to whom our founding fathers did unspeakable things. It was one that required a terrible, hypocritical compromise that forced us to betray the very principles of liberty and justice for which those founding fathers swore this country stood and that we’ve only managed to rectify in fits and starts and never quite lived down. It was one that strove to provide that equality of opportunity to everyone, and that, despite our imperfect beginnings, could and would in my lifetime live up to those promises.
I'm beginning to get the sense that this is a rising sentiment. True, it's been a rough road, what with the trouncing civil liberties endured during the Bush years, and we're still making concessions, blaming the War on Terror for a lack of fortitude to core tenets. Perhaps it's the constancy of reminders of where we've gone asunder.
Our government has surrendered its will to govern along with any semblance of competence, self-paralysis in the Senate serving as the permissive poster child of dereliction of duty while local, state, and federal officials allow those on the margins to divert the power of representative democracy toward those who need it the least.
Mega-corporations are driven by little more than a plundering mentality, where taking as much as you can, as fast as you can, is the short-term goal and measure of success, regardless of consequence or ethical boundary, unchecked by regulation, law, or morality, as profits and campaign contributions replace integrity and sustained growth as core canons of American business.
We exhibit a wanton militarism that seeks to spread a brand of freedom that we're unable or unwilling to execute within our own borders but which sucks up an ever-growing share of our economy while our children grow hungry, our jobs disappear, and our infrastructure crumbles like ancient Greek ruins. We've become a living, breathing example that when you're a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.
Our focus has become not the 80% of beliefs that unite us - life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness - but the 20% that divides us, whether it be one religion seeking predominance over another, one skin color seeking to limit the opportunity of another, or one political party seeking to use our diversity and differences as wedges to split us apart for their own benefit and enrichment.
We've never achieved our more perfect union, but that's remained our goal. Why is there such trepidation about the resultant chaos and discomfort associated with change and improvement?
These same constitutional scholar wanna-bes seeking strict interpretation of the broad concepts of Jefferson and Adams, et al. blissfully ignore the very precepts outlined in the Preamble, and continue to ignore the fact that the Bill of Rights was developed in response to serious concerns that omission of significant individual liberties from the draft version of the Constitution might lead to further oppression by a government in its infancy, or its successors, and the inclusion of such liberties was so important that the document was amended before the historical ink was dry.
Individual liberties that protect the rights of Tea Party Patriots to protest, birthers to demand Barack Obama's birth certificate, and rich citizens to finance repugnant political discourse under the umbrella of protected free speech are the root cause of our disagreements, which means our freedom is working exactly as designed. It's impassioned egalitarianism at its best, as voices are heard and claims are staked, in the public arena, where positions can be evaluated, accepted or discarded based on merit and adherence to our principals, not by who postulates the loudest or which group has the most weaponry.
The voices calling for a return to an ideology of inclusion are growing stronger as they return from the wilderness, a modern day suffrage movement gaining momentum while refusing to be shouted back into the night.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, 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.