“To form a more perfect union” — those words are at the heart of what is real in our country. In 1776 a band of men gathered to enact the Constitution of the United States of America. The fight over this country was mighty. Britain did not want to give us up, this resource-rich country that was ripe for the picking. Those fleeing religious persecution in England weren’t willing to compromise. We were a country formed through war and strife. As we struggled to settle here, there was more war and strife as we fought indigenous people to take over their country. We used the labors of people sold into slavery to do gut-wrenching work to build homes, railroads, businesses, agriculture, you name it and we used others to build it. Somehow when the Civil War happened, we managed to survive it as a nation. I’m not sure even today how that happened.
I think in my heart I want to believe it happened because people really believed in “We the people.” I think that same belief made it possible for us to become a fledgling nation that would survive not only that war, but every war after that, and come out as leaders with courage and valor. With the vigor of hungry people, we fought and rebuilt time and again and established ourselves as world leaders with much respect from even those we fought. We did so as a united nation, together in hard times. But, things are different today.
Not since the Civil War have our families been as divided as they are today, and they are encouraged to be divided by leadership in this country. We cannot allow that. We have never allowed another country to make decisions for us, but we are quietly allowing Russia to play a very dangerous game. Our pride was the flag and still is, but even those who cherish it (and I believe that is most of us) have forgotten what it really means and the hardship, sweat, and blood that went into flying that flag with such pride, nothing more important than a symbol of all of that.
Recently I was part of a conversation with four women, who were evenly divided on our current leadership, and both factions as determined as the other that they were right. At one point one of the women said, “Well, I don’t care what he does; all I know is that I have more money in the bank, let him do what he will.” My response was simple: “And therein lies the rub that is what is wrong today, it isn’t We the People anymore, it is Me the People.” As long as I have, who cares? I care, and so do many others. We care and we want our America back. The America that allows us to disagree and work together, love together, and play together. I know that country well and I don’t want to lose it.
We have lived through the election of 45 presidents. At least 13 served during “serious war time,” two through impeachment, one served after the establishment of the country he fought to form, one through the Civil War, and several through the Civil Rights that had been fought over in the Civil War. There has never been a “peachy keen” presidency. The presidents who did offer that the closest in my lifetime were Presidents Carter and Obama. And therein lies the rub. The issue of race is uglier today than it has been in decades because there is a small group of people who are angry as all get out that one of our most successful presidents was the black guy. There, I said it.
Race in America has never been easy. Today, it should not be an issue. It is not something our children should be hearing about. The millennials seem to have blended well together as a multi-racial country, there are mixed marriages racially, there are gay marriages, and there are marriages between the haves and the have-nots. Most people find it OK and acceptable. A small group of angry people are determined to keep us separate because it benefits them. Neo Nazi groups, the KKK, and hate mongers stir and twist and try to control the agendas politically. They cannot. For God’s sake, our fathers fought Nazis, our parents were part of the Civil Rights Era, and we grew into that; these wars have been fought and won by We the People. Going backward is not an option. If we are to thrive as a nation, if we are to build a strong country that benefits its citizens, if we are to be a leader of the Free World, we have to do it together. Hatred and bigotry cannot reign, neither can a “me” mentality. We the People, to form a more perfect Union ... we have to remember that.
— Barbara Anderson, Jeffersonville, is executive director of Haven House Services Inc. Reach her by email firstname.lastname@example.org.