By now most of us have heard the political slogan, ‘Make America Great Again’. It is affixed to all manners of expression – be they hats, t-shirts, bumper stickers, screensavers, background images for one’s personal digital devices, banners, etc. They are everywhere, and the reaction to seeing this slogan seems to elicit the very same polarization that has held our nation captive since ‘The Great Awakening’ of the Civil Rights era. And ever since a rather profound disagreement on accountability and a mutually prosperous pathway forward has been our lot; and it [the aforementioned slogan], by sheer virtue of reaction, is undoubtedly the perfect device in which to take our nation’s pulse. So what is the diagnosis? Well, quite clearly, we are absolutely torn.
Yes, we’re absolutely torn ‘down the middle’ and have, largely, been dragged by the extremities furthest from our core ― the logical center. As is with all relationships, opposing socio-philosophies are no damn different. They lean toward each side – wandering farther from one another…and farthest from any logical harmony. Oh, and make no damn mistake about it ― we are in dire, dire need of some rather profound counseling. But where do we start such a deep conversation? Well, again – as in all relationships, the proper expression of truths and accountability is the only place to start. I mean, you could hope it dilutes throughout the coming generations, but this, to me, is a half-measure…a coward’s errand that allows animus to loom just below the surface.
Sadly, but there are no happy conversations betwixt parties who feel mutually wronged – you simply must have the ugly truths exposed in your relationship to move forward amicably. So, that having been said, what are our ugly truths – do we even have them? Well, one side says we haven’t ugly truths, but instead, a glorious past that direly needs returning to. And the other, well, they experienced the ugliest truths of all – the lie of inclusion given with our nation’s very first breath. We penned and uttered those eloquently etched words into the annals of history ― that “all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”. But, as evidenced by our actions [as a Nation] lo’ these last 243-years, those words were both insincere and cruel – in that, they flaunted freedom to some while offering bondage and brutality to others. A brave and triumphant roar of inclusion upon our nation’s birth was sullied and negated by the cowardly lie they whispered under their breath.
As you know, a lie in a relationship tends to grow in the dark – like some malevolent fungi poised to engulf whatever harmony or happiness were in the air; leaving only spores of resentment and delusion to breathe. Well, the relationship our nation has with itself is no different than that of two lovers – in that, insert a lie and all trust and peace comes to a halt. I mean, how the hell could you trust your ‘better half’ after betrayal? How the hell could you move forward together – expecting a virtuous terminus? That, undoubtedly, is a fool’s errand.
So how do we start the conversation without further polarizing these warring factions, and make no damn mistake about it – the is a war taking place at the moment. Despite what you may think or may hear in the news, the war isn’t one of the Identitarian-Right verus the Ideological-Left, and while they’re the official belligerents hereabouts, the true combatants are your forefathers/mothers. They’re who you cling to – their nearly faded faces, indistinct personalities, ones largely forgotten unless a call for the reckoning of the past is called for by the progressive present.
This manifests itself in the violence espoused whenever monuments to historical figures are threatened, toppled, or preserved. It bubbles to the surface when someone asks for a call to the logical question of reparations or whenever a question of moral equity is raised in regards to our nation’s past and how it can reconcile it to have the future promised ‘twelve-score & three’ (243) years ago. It happens whenever that slogan is waved proudly or whenever/wherever it is seen for what it is – an attempt to forget the past without acknowledging it requires has something to be forgiven before it could ever be forgotten. Again, you CANNOT move forward in a relationship by ignoring ugly truths. That is precisely how we got where we are now – the untenable position wrought by cowardice and delusion.
Earlier I mentioned both parties feeling mutually ‘wronged’, and while I have spoken a great deal on how one side feels wronged, I haven’t in regards (deeply, that is) to why the other feels wronged. I will do so now. You see, while one side carries the weight of woe heaped upon them by generations of inequality, lack of societal inclusion, and the atrocious psychological trauma that slithered off the bifurcated tongue of racist through the mechanisms of superiority and inferiority…and the other-side, well, they don’t want to be shackled to those who did the heaping. And while it is true that not every-single-forefather or faceless figure from yesteryear were monstrous bigots, the world that bore the mechanisms of hate and exclusion came from their collective cowardice and ignorance.
I get it – quite honestly I do. I mean, who wants to be blamed for things that occurred far before their birth, and who wants to see their historical landscape so much that it feel unrecognizable to the eye – so much so that the cracked and faded photos of one’s familial antiquity carry a notion of complicit cowardice or societal shame? I get it. But again, accountability is rarely a painless process, and whenever such discomfort is felt…imagine the inverse – being born under the cloud of hundreds of years of inequality, brutality, societal shame, and the removal of identity and the pride that comes with knowing one’s forefathers/mothers and figures worthy of lore. Much like in physics, societal wrongs are no damn different – you cannot ‘borrow’ from an element, nor can you stagnate the movement of an object inherently in motion, without a cataclysmic reaction – you cannot preserve monuments and memory without further impeding the plight and pain of whatever you’ve impeded or borrowed from.
We cannot move forward in harmony without an audit of our ugly truths, nor can we ever move forward living a lie, and certainly won’t do so without more strife. We need to tip our cap to this nation’s hallmark moments, as we do in our own lives, but we also must recognize and reconcile the mistakes that have been made. Also, we mustn’t stop a conversation – legislation needs to follow it to be sure there are true ‘iron’ in our words…especially those eloquently spoken. You see, much like with a nation or any damn idea that were are beheld to by society or circumstance, a person must be resolute in their core beliefs…and they must be held accountable. Live your life by a code that can be constantly confirmed through the simple math of Life – if it violates the freedoms of another, your math is dead-damn-wrong.
Monuments, memories, warring factions opposing each other’s movements through opposing movements that seek to belittle the former by espousing the divinity of the latter – Black versus Blue. Yes, this ‘American Experiment’ is in dire need of counseling, a profound reckoning, and some much-needed accountability. Because make no mistake, the nation we co-inhabit is a multi-ethnic one, and it isn’t going backward…it is going forward – with or without you. And while leaving things behind can be difficult, you simply must leave things behind in a fire, and asking others to stay in the flames with you is absolute insanity. It’s uncomfortable, it is painful, but it is truthful…and righteous. And if that truly is the ethos of this nation of ours, well, then we must embrace our mistakes…right the profound societal wrongs by acknowledging actions and legislating necessary reactions. We must be decidedly unlike our forefathers, we must be brave for ALL Americans…and we mustn’t allow the comfort that cowardice offers to be our escutcheon.
Remember this, if anything is to be remembered, you do not get to choose when to be a hero…you can choose to be a coward at your discretion, but heroism is proven in the moments that uncomfortable truths face us dead in the eye and are diametrically opposed to our core beliefs. If being an American is to be the epitome of bravery, it must start here and now…we must be brave enough to leave the long-faded figures of antiquity to face their demons in the time in which they lived, and we must speak for ourselves with their aid – no more echoed chants of ghosts long since laid asunder by time and trial. We, The People of a nation that seeks greatness, simply must lean on the better angels of our nature to forge a new and true union – one without the implicit animus and resentment wrought in unspoken truths and championed lies. We simply must prevail over the past to truly have the future we all seek to see into the fruition of our fathered/mothered fruits – let us be the forefathers that ours’ never were…let us be the Americans we were all meant to before that lie was spoken. Let us be one nation, under God (or whatever tethers your ‘soul’ your intrinsic sense of being), absolutely indivisible, and most honestly…created equal without equivocation.