With less than a week to go until the results of our election, I am weary of the rancor and discord that has our nation more divided than I can remember in my lifetime. It goes beyond the politicians running or participating in the process. For us to be so divided, something has gone awry with the American people. It seems that no matter who wins, the American people will still be divided. What will it take to restore one nation under God indivisible?
As a small child I remember placing my little hand over my heart and reciting those words, (with the exception of Under God, which was added when I was a teenager). In my young mind, the statement was instituted by our founding fathers and represented reality. I recited the final words, “with liberty and justice for all,” and with a child’s trusting heart, I just knew they were talking about me.
America may have been a perfect union for a large segment of the population, but it has never been perfect for the totality of its citizenry. If we had remained stuck in the time warp of the nation’s beginnings, you would not be reading my words. In our Southern slave history, it was against the law for a Black woman like myself to be taught to read, let alone write a blog for a local newspaper. This nation is a work in progress, ever striving toward an ideal.
What can we do to not only restore, but moving forward, to create an indivisible nation?
Covid-19 could have provided an opportunity for national healing in more ways than one. It is an enemy common to all of us: young-old, Black-White, Republican-Democrat, rich-poor, gay-straight, immigrant-natural born. Instead of being a unifier, it has been turned into yet another source of division. Why did we not come together and fight this common enemy instead of making false enemies of our fellow Americans?
There is still time to choose elected officials who will reach across the aisle for the good of the whole. We need not always be of one mind, in the sense of having the same opinion. Surely there is room for disagreement, but our executive/legislative/judicial system is designed for compromise and conflict resolution with reason and civility.
As we raise our voices to make positive changes for all segments of the population, the rule of law and peaceful protest are not mutually exclusive. On the one hand, looters and armed self-appointed militia are equally at fault in wrongdoing, and punishable under the law. But be clear, assault weapons in the hands of civilians or law enforcement have no place in response to unarmed citizens expressing their first amendment rights.
Our politicians reflect us, as individuals, and the values that we express by our spoken and written words, as well as by our actions. The term American core values has been overstated and underutilized.
In anticipation of the post-election era, this might be a good time to reflect on the values that we want to project onto our nation. My list begins with compassion, empathy, rational thinking, kindness and peace. I invite you to compile your list and reflect those words in your actions as you go about your daily life.
And demand those values in the leadership you choose.