I made mention in a recent blog (“Mottos”) that I sensed that, as Americans, our trust in our systems, politics and institutions has been eroded to the point of being broken. I ended the blog by expressing that I ached for us because there is the temptation now to not want to trust in one another, to no longer make room for our differences and to pull apart rather than to pull together.
This is one of the corrosive effects of fear. Once any one of us puts on the goggles of fear, everything and everyone is distorted, colored and tainted. We will perceive that there are monsters under every bed and around every corner. We will be susceptible to being whipped into a frenzy by persons fanning these flames while claiming to want to put them out. We will be tempted to grab our pitchforks and torches to chase and kill the beasts.
But what if the beast is in us? The beast of FEAR?
Has not human history shown us that time and time again?
After our demonizing, after our scourging and scorching, after all the lives altered, ruined or taken in our fevered efforts to make ourselves feel ‘safe’, every mob, every revolution, every society that blazed down that path has had to look back with regret and remorse at the random and senseless destruction that took place. The madness of fear is always clear in hindsight.
And no one was made safer. But some were made wealthier.
And there were still more beasts to chase….according to the people who chase beasts for a living.
Our challenge, more than ever before, is to not repeat those mistakes. We cannot expect to make true progress towards peace through violence and destruction. That is the lesson. That is the truth. We are all collaterally damaged by violence. We are all diminished by fear based blaming and labeling.
The social inequities and institutional inadequacies that have been exposed, and will continue to be exposed, have been festering for quite some time. Perhaps we were naïve. Perhaps we turned a blind eye. Perhaps we thought it was someone else’s problem in some other part of the country or world. Perhaps we thought we couldn’t make a big difference so why try to make a difference at all?
We’re living in the results of these approaches. They don’t work either.
We must ask ourselves if there are not better choices than only the two that are habitually offered, those being between violence or apathy…destruction or complacency?
Our country was based upon resolve, participation and cooperation. We knew that there were decisions to be made and actions that needed to be taken. We knew we couldn’t pass the responsibility for these things on to someone else or to wait for some better time. We knew, too, that we couldn’t do it unless we united, found our common ground and trusted in what we would try to do together.
For all of us, equally.
That’s what we declared as the purpose for our independence…
Implementing this ideal has been a slow, pain filled, educational experience which we are not done with nor will we ever be done with. Democracy is a work in progress not a finished accomplishment. Solutions change because conditions change.
The ideals, however, OUR PRINCIPLES, are what inform and guide our direction.
Resolve, participation and cooperation are what move us forward united.