The Continued American Ambition
There is a very good chance that you are disheartened by the current political climate of the United States. Most people, even non Americans, feel, at minimum, disappointment or frustration. You may feel that you’ve been failed by the people who are running things, and I’m not going to tell you that you’re wrong. I am however, going to ask you to understand what America is: unfinished.
Perhaps it’s a cliche to quote Hamilton these days, but nothing so accurately describes what the United States is as the phrase, “America, you great unfinished symphony.” It’s been over two hundred years since we started writing one of the most complex and ambitious symphony’s of a country the world has ever known, and we are still not done.
America has failed itself from the start. We ran away from an oppressive homeland only to become the oppressors in the New World. We shouted across the sea, “All men are created equal,” and then built our country on the backs of people we legally branded as less than human. And thus began our never ending cycle of falling far below the standards we claim to champion.
But we keep trying. America is a giant catastrophic, magnificent, inspiring, tenacious, hypocritical experiment that should not for one second be given up on. It lives and breathes, and you, YOU, can shape it. I don’t just mean voting. Though that is vital, I mean you can do more. How many people sit around complaining about “the government” but never once try and participate? Cynicism is easy. Work is hard. Getting up and saying, “I will not be silent. I will not be passive. I will not be just an observer,” is HARD. By participation, we reclaim our agency within this system.
There are many who will have more disadvantages, more roadblocks, than you. Listen to them. Seek to fix the problems that put those blocks there. Lift others voices instead of speaking over them. We all have privilege. We all have disadvantages. Very few people only have one or the other (though many groups lean strongly to a side), so figure out where you are, and figure out ways to try and make sure everyone has an equal playing field. Remember, that idea is what we hold to be self evident.
Right now, I’m sitting in a hotel room near Fort Meade. I just voted, and now I’m getting ready to go take my Oath of Enlistment tomorrow. The 2016 Election results have yet to come in. As I sit here, thinking about the past and coming twelve hours, I have realized the more I have embraced progressive ideals, the more patriotic I’ve become. For years, I didn’t consider myself patriotic. After all, the Left is a bunch of heathens that just want to spit on the constitution and love of country cannot coexist with criticism of its framework, right? Wrong. Patriotism is not limited to one group. It is not such a flimsy thing. No, I do not believe in a literal reading of the Constitution. I don’t believe in a literal interpretation of most Scripture, so I certainly do not believe in a literal reading of the Constitution, but in all reality, was anyone ever supposed to?
“I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as a civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”
We were left with something that was unfinished, and it may never be completed, but completing it isn’t what matters. What matters is making sure you are part of its creation, and so is everyone else around you. We may fail, YOU may fail, I certainly will fail, but as long as each of us keeps trying, does not give in to doubt nor difficulty, and rises each time we fall, America will succeed.