As another Independence Day arrives, I find myself increasingly unable to really understand what’s happening in America. I find myself these days oddly optimistic about the future of humanity, but a good deal less so about my country.
Here’s a piece I just saw for the first time this morning. It was written last September, before the election, but you don’t have to change many words to make it relevant for this day, today, this morning.
From the People of the United States of America: From time to time in human societies, things get so bad with the governments that we set up that we have to take a step back, stop being citizens of that government and just be basic humans again, loyal only to the primary needs of humanity. This is one of those times and it’s only fair if we are going to take such a drastic step, that we first explain why. We owe everybody that.
First of all, we start by taking for granted that nobody’s life should matter more than anyone else’s. Everyone should have the right to live their life without people oppressing them. At minimum everyone should have the right to live. Nobody should be prevented from moving around freely or doing whatever they want as long as they are not causing harm to someone else. More than that, every human has the right to seek out things that bring them joy.
These are basic things that humans need.
The whole reason we create governments is so that communities can come together and agree among themselves to set up structures that make sure that ALL the humans among them have access to these fundamental needs. If the structure that they set up stops functioning properly, if it becomes corrupted, if it stops serving the needs of the people, then it is critical that those humans be allowed to dismantle that structure in order to build one that does a better job. They need to be allowed to create new structures that are better at keeping them safe and happy.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Not unlike a similar missive, written in ink on parchment, and signed two hundred and forty-five years ago by a gathering of wealthy white men in Philadelphia. Later, some of those same men would gather to bang out some ideas for how to go about forming a more perfect union. Imperfect men, imperfectly representative of their new nation, doing incomplete work in forming a nation that somehow always feels…incomplete.
Well, that’s America, and we do still have it in ourselves to make a more perfect union.
This is a harder and harder country to love, but hope still flickers. A little, anyway.
Flicker on, America. Flicker on….
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