By Andrew Lidden Pate, Jr.
Americans are so divided we seem to have forgotten the things we share. We can’t see the proverbial forest “for the trees,” the trees being Progressives, Evangelicals, Left Wingers, Right Wingers, Trumpites, Liberals, Conservatives, Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Independents etc.— the forest being Democracy.
So divided are we, we may never be united again. On the other hand, the opposite is also possible, we may one day feel much more at home with one another than we do now. How might such a reunion come about? Surely, that is the question.
A first step in that direction, one should think, would be for us to come together in understanding the meaning of Democracy, the form of government which we presume to define the United States of America.
But, you say, we can’t even agree on that. One person may believe that Democracy is fundamentally about justice for all. Yet another may believe that Democracy is fundamentally about our being the greatest nation on earth and doing whatever it takes to make that greatness a reality.
The two opinions are not, however, contradictory, as brilliantly stated in the opening words of the U.S. Constitution
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
“A more perfect Union” was the founding goal. If that is not the pursuit of Greatness, what is? In 2018 as well, “a more perfect Union” is both our goal and our beginning. We simply will not get there unless we agree it is what we together most desire, beginning here and now.
Secondly, the recovery of our “Union” clearly requires that we commit to acquiring a working knowledge of the divisive impact slavery has had upon our nation, including its after effects up through the present day.
While we, most of us anyway, may think we know this history, our actions toward one another clearly demonstrate that we do not. White Supremacism and Racial Integration are, by definition, bi-polar opposites. And for as long as that is the case, we shall remain not just divided, but bitterly so.
Thirdly, as essential as tolerance and respect are in defining healthy human relationships, Democracy, authentic democracy, underscores their limits. Democracy does not respect dictatorships. It does not tolerate injustice. Democracy reaches out to the downtrodden. At the same time, it forcefully rejects the bully, the thug, and every single Mafia-like tactic. Democracy seeks peace first and last and goes to war solely to defend and maintain itself and the friendly nations who support it.
Fourthly, Democracy places supreme value upon education and the importance of learning throughout one’s lifetime. Thus, Democracy takes justified pride in its schools and in the agencies that support those schools, their teachers and students.
I present these thoughts, not as ends in themselves, but as beginning steps for the long road ahead upon which I fervently desire America to be headed.