Monday, August 25, 2014

Fulfilling The Promise Of The United States Of America

A relatively unknown Barack Hussein Obama addressing the Democratic National Convention in 2004, stirred the gathering with a call to unity and community that seemed to resound from all the various dimensions of our national consciousness. It was a defining moment for a young politician who saw the possibilities for American life in terms of his own sense of himself and the "unity in diversity" that is a part of his biology... And, it has been suggested, ...  "biology is destiny".  This is part of what our now President had to say on that occasion :
"I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents’ dreams live on in my two precious daughters. I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible."
In a rebuke to those he saw as attempting to divide the country for partisan political gain he declared:

"..., I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America — there's the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too: We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States, and, yes, we've got some gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq."

It is ten years later and President Obama is in the second year of his second term in office. It has been a testy six years in which the opposition Republican Party has done everything they can to prove the Obama who spoke in 2004 wrong. From Healthcare reform to Immigration reform, from foreign policy to community policing; the arguments have been configured and the national political consciousness gerrymandered to make "divide and rule" the creed of what has become a frustratingly unproductive Congress. It is easy, in a political environment like this, to declare that the Idealism expressed by Barack Obama in 2004 was nothing more than the aspirational over-reach of a dreamer. It is easy to conclude that there is in fact a black America and a white America and a Latino America and an Asian America. Watching the punditry on TV one might be convinced that there is a real division of our country into Red States and Blue States. But that is letting ourselves off easy. That is the course of the convenient lazy-think into which we have been lulled by our own innate partisanship and by the charlatans who have a stake in maintaining a state of divisiveness.

We have witnessed a country more divided than many expected with the cultural shift indicated by the election of a Black President in a historically racist United States of America. There is no doubt in my mind that there is a cultural shift, but those who expected the "end of race" as a defining feature of the American experience are in fact neophytes in their understanding of the human experience. I fully expect the "drowning man" to "clutch at a straw"; in this case the racist instinct is expected to find its most blatant expression in the face of its coming certain demise. Don't believe me? Take a look at the demographic trends. Consider the following from an article entitled "The Browning of America" written by Richard Lyon:

"In 2008 Pew Research published a demographic projection of the US population in 2050. This 
document has been the subject of considerable discussion and no little alarm in the conservative bastions of white privilege. It paints a picture of a society in which the non-Hispanic white population will have tipped over into minority status. The founding fathers are surely turning over in 
their graves."

Demographic projection is not an exact science. There are a number of variables to account for, but what is agreed on is that if birth rates continue as they have the changes predicted will become reality. 

There are different ways of hearing what Barack Obama said in 2004. Some people looking at the circumstances around them reasonably conclude that he was... and is WRONG. Fortunately the framing of Reality is not the exclusive purview of our SUBJECTIVITY. We believe what we see. That is easy. But some dare to see what they believe. That my friends, is an act of Faith. It is the DOING of the PROPHETIC among us. It is a demonstration of the kind of Idealism that says ... I know you think I am wrong, the facts before us agree with you... But I see something different... And I am SPEAKING IT INTO BEING. 

When the Founding Fathers declared that ALL MEN are created equal, they were not echoing the humanitarian sentiments of racist Southerners who did not believe that the Black Beings in their midst were men. If  Life has taught us anything it is that we must proceed with the vision of a more just society despite the shortcomings of those whose vision of life is corrupted by their own sinfulness... Their own reptilian perspective. The declaration of a new and more civilized society is a work that must continue beyond the inspiring words which give that declaration wings. It is not the function of a "big jug" to "little mug" dynamic. The most effective change will come through the working together of a conscientized citizenry... Not through a top down dynamic in which we expect someone else to do for us what we should be doing for ourselves. The change which will make our vision of a more just society a reality is a work that calls us all to become engaged. It demands that we educate ourselves and our children. It demands that we exercise our franchise through voting. It calls us to become involved in, and help direct the mechanisms of our community life. It is a work that demands that we commit to being productive in the many "callings" of our lives, no matter how humble. 

The work of making-over our world is not a task for any single "leader". Such a leader can inspire and call us to action, but WE... all of us, must put our shoulders to the wheel in the cultivation of the better society we aspire to. 

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