Perspective on America

What does America represent? To us? To the rest of the world? America, the Idea of America, is not what our founding fathers wrote into the Constitution and Bill of Rights, but rather what is not. It is in how her people have chosen to act on and interpret and re-interpret that law based on what is not there; the bold space between the words…”that ALL men are created equal” for example.

As a child in the early sixties, growing up in Georgia, I can still remember the separate water fountains and restrooms. I am reminded every day of the moment I began to think for myself and question what my Father and his Father were teaching me everyday about the worthlessness of blacks and the evil of the Jews and how it was okay for Minnie to raise us kids, but not okay for her to vote or be educated or eat at the same table. I remember the ax handle and the noose used to solicit votes for the Governor’s office.

This was America, in my lifetime. Even today we argue over the “heritage” of our state flag. A flag whose image was altered in protest of the Civil Rights movement by adding the confederate battle flag. How many died to force the rest of us to re-interpret the empty spaces in our Constitution, in our Bill of Rights, to force us to see the reality of our heritage and then realize that our heritage begins with us today?

America was here before Columbus, and the industry he represented, stumbled upon it. The land that is America was cheated from, stolen, taken from an indigenous population by brute force. This is not what I was taught about the “great march west” in grade school (to think that we, as Americans during the cold war, were appalled by what the Soviets taught their school children about their history…such hypocrisy we said).

The greatness of America, that “dream”, emerged not from the force of industry, not from the might of her military, but from the strength of character of her most humble people who, despite seemingly overwhelming odds, were able to convince enough of her citizens that what our founding fathers, probably quite deliberately chose not to say, is where our freedom lies…in the execution of those inalienable rights to govern ourselves despite the power of our leaders. The greatness of America emerged, in part, from the images being broadcast across America, and the World, of peaceful protestors in Selma and Birmingham, AL, being violently attacked by dogs, clubs, and fire hoses and the response of the American people to say “this is wrong” and to write it into law.

All through modern history, Societies have been usurped by greed, by the quest for absolute power. The American experiment represented to the world that it just may be possible for a society to emerge where the quest for power could be overcome by the will of the people for the good of all. Where people could be free to live and think as they chose without fear of being persecuted by their leaders.

Where is America today?

Banobo is a native of Atlanta, Georgia who will be contributing to this site from time to time (and hopefully more regularly). [Goose3five]

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