Over 200 years ago, a nation formed with a new dream–where government was going to be of the people, by the people, and for the people. It was going to be a government where all people had opportunity to succeed…where dreams could come true.
Did that ever completely happen? No…but the dream was always there, always providing the foundation.
There were problems. There were times when some people were considered “less than” others…times when some who looked different or who spoke other languages were not welcomed….
But people kept trying. They kept hoping…kept working…and challenged each other to be better than they had been.
They were given the gift of a statue with part of a poem inscribed on it–a statue and hope that encapsulated the dreams of both the people who were part of that experiment and others who wanted to be part of it.
While there were sometimes leaders who pandered to the worst instincts of people, most of them encouraged the people to try to live up to the dream. They also realized that for the dream to truly be a reality, they needed to take care of their land…to try to make sure that everyone could stay healthy.
And in doing all this, they began to be a symbol to other countries of what could be. They worked together with other leaders to try to make the world a better place for everyone.
They didn’t always succeed. But they kept trying.
And now I’m afraid that dream…that great experiment…is dying.
It has been dying for some time; many of us just weren’t aware of how sick it was. But it’s clear now.
This great experiment said that there needs to be checks and balances between the three parts of government–but that has failed.
We have a leader who has signaled that he believes he can do anything he wants–and nobody in government has the right to stop him. We have a leader who has ignored people with expertise in a variety of fields in favor of “yes” men and women. We have a leader who has cozied up to dictators while tearing apart our relationships with those who have been our allies. We have a leader who has openly mocked people with disabilities…who has boasted of sexual assault…who has supported individuals and policies that have further marginalized and put in danger those who are already marginalized…who has made it acceptable to be racist and xenophobic. We have a leader who lies so frequently that it has become impossible to tell when (if) he is telling the truth. We have a leader who has claimed to be a Christian but whose words, actions, and policies are in direct opposition to what Jesus asked of his followers.
We have an administration where those who are holding various leadership positions are openly hostile to the responsibilities of those Cabinet positions…and/or have actively fought against them in the past. We have an administration that has given tax cuts to the wealthy while cutting programs that provide safety nets to the less fortunate. We have an administration that has rolled back protections for the environment that have made it safer for individuals…and that is opening up protected lands to activities that will destroy them for short-term interests.
Many of us assumed that this dream–this experiment–could not be destroyed…that it might change, but that it would last. And so we are also to blame for what is happening because of our complacency.
Can this dream be revived? I hope so…for the sake of my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. But it’s going to take all of us–and we have to be willing to work together.