Saturday, September 22, 2012

God's favorite

It's good to be an American ... but God's favorite?

We've done wonderfully well, we Americans, and we've inspired so many others around the world, but our record is as yet unfinished and far from pristine. Civil rights, equal opportunity, freedom to speak and debate, freedom to work; folks come to live and work in America as perhaps the best place their world has to offer. There are two sides to that idea ...

    We've stated our values, but how did we act them out?  
          Looking back, it perhaps wasn't all that great a beginning.

We hold these truths to be self-evident ...

While we were proclaiming that 'all men are created equal',
we were driving out the native American men,
women, and children of the land.
... that all men are created equal ...
As we gave our word and covenant that each has the right to
life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,
we had already brought 200,000
African slaves to the colonies.
... that they are endowed by their creator 
       with certain unalienable rights ...
Native American and native African, even indentured Europeans
displaced, killed, enslaved.
... that among these are life, liberty,
         and the pursuit of happiness.

Life? By the time these words were penned, around 80% of the native American population had vanished. Of the estimated twelve million original inhabitants, only a few hundred thousand survived at the end of the nineteenth century.  

Liberty?  An estimated 645,000 Africans were abducted from their homelands, brought to the U.S, and enslaved. By the 1860 census, there were 4 million as their children were born into slavery.
Equal?  At the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, the United States, Britain and Australia rejected Japan's proposal of a "racial equality clause" in the League of Nations covenant.  Arrogance and racial discrimination towards the Japanese had plagued international relations since the forced opening of the country in the 1800s, and continued through the decades up to World War II.   

Through the twentieth century, we backed dictators who took our money and sided with us; no matter that their repressive regimes were cruel, inhumane, or even murderous, and we knew it in bloody detail.

We backed Mubarak in Egypt for decades despite his criminal human rights record. We backed totalitarian regimes in Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, how many?  Noriega,  Batista, ...  millions more died.
Weapons of mass destruction declared in Iraq, troop buildups on the Saudi border ... the reports were fabricated.

... of the people, by the people, for the people....

Government today follows the leadership of the elite
and acts on behalf of monied interests.
We've all recognized and
conceded the point.

Today on Wall Street and on Main Street in our cities, we pepper spray the public dissenters, and when we can, we throw them in jail.

Or we have the FBI break down their door in the middle of the night and haul them away to jail and then before a Seattle Grand Jury... on a warrant for 'black clothing' and possible 'anarchist literature'.

It's been two hundred years since such unreasonable search and seizure
were specifically denied to government agents. 

The intentions of those who founded this country were and still are quite noble.  

The goals they set are achievable;
there is so much yet to do

to make it real for all.

Troublesome times with great possibilities.  Let's be realistic; it is good to be an American.  Less than perfect, if we're objective, but good nonetheless.  Let's remember and affirm our values and press on toward the mark.  

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways;
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find....