National Unity Must Be Founded in Equal Justice and Truth
To a generation of Christian conservatives, I’m radical and heretical; I am not a true Christian in their eyes. Why? Why is my Christ-centered faith not Christian? It is the faith I was taught by their generation. It is the faith I learned in the words of Christ, set out in red letters in the big family Bible. Moreover, it is basic human decency. At the core of our American Ideal is working for a more perfect union — which must require, by its very nature, compassionate wisdom, equal justice, and truth in governance. Compassionate wisdom was poured into me as a child. The belief was upheld for me that our government should make life better for all people, especially the poor and oppressed. It was imparted to me that we held ourselves and our leaders to a standard of compassion and decency. Yet, Trump is everything I was ever taught is wrong and indecent and cruel in people and in the world. I cannot reconcile that compassionate wisdom I was taught with the knowledge that the generation who upheld it to me voted for this cruel, indecent, petty, heartless man twice. It’s so hard to see the people who raised me to look forward with hope and working for an ever more compassionate governance choose instead the antithesis of all they taught.
That said — and in the spirit of conciliation — I don’t know if this will help us understand, however… When I was in college, my history professor pointed out something about the generations who lived through the rise and fall of fascism in the first half of 20th Century. Those same generations also lived through the greatest technological transformation the world had ever seen, from the Industrial Revolution to the moral imperative of ending slavery to Suffrage to the radical transformation of transportation to miraculous medical advances, from months for correspondence to radio to movies to television. Those generations changed with all those upheavals. They changed and changed and changed at a mind numbing pace. No generation could recognize the reality of life for the next, all while they were still living it. They changed and changed until they could accept no more change. Like a rubber band, they stretched and twisted themselves with astonishing elasticity until their ability to change broke.
We have lived through another radical technological transformation since the 1980s — The Information Age and globalization are perhaps more radical than what that previous transformation wrought. Maybe that’s what happened with the generations who raised us.
Perhaps it’s not racism or hate so much as it is fear — fear our transforming world will leave no room for them. White fury is about the fear that sharing the privilege they’ve known for two and half centuries will mean people who do not look like them TAKING privilege from them. Somehow, they’ve become convinced that they cannot have success if the “not them” also have success. This struggle isn’t about taking privilege — sharing it is not losing it. It’s about identifying the systemic and institutionalized racism and oppression in our society and eradicating it. Oppression is built into the foundations of our policy-making. That oppression drags all of us down, even those who think they are not part of it. But, institutionalized and systemic oppression is how the poor are set against the poor and how the greedy rich keep our focus on hate instead of their own rapacious greed-fueled abuses. The struggle is about creating our society’s “more perfect union” by living out our nation’s founding principle of “all men are created equal.”
And now, in the demands for our conciliation, we are being told to “Calm down.” No.
We have a chance to again address these things and a proactive public ready to fight for them. “Calm down?” We’ve done that before. Two thousand years ago, a man was crucified for calmly seeking justice and peace. And, the world calmed down, crawled incrementally out of dark ages, and the world moved on. “Calm down?” Fifty-two years ago, a man was gunned down for seeking an end to racial oppression. The world enshrined him in empty accolades, calmed down and moved on — and little changed.
“Calm down?” No.
We’ve heard all our lives how freedom of speech must include ugly and hateful rhetoric too, that we had to have such rhetoric out front as equally as progressive and inclusive rhetoric. If Trumpism has taught us any lessons, let it be the fallacy of that argument. In Trumpism, we have definitive proof that giving free reign to poisonous ideals will not merely exposed the evils of that rhetoric. Trumpism has proven beyond all doubt that massive numbers of people will be converted to those ideals, will come to accept that rhetoric as gospel — immutable and irrefutable. This is how fascism rises and grips the soul of a people. Free speech in the 1st Ammendment was never intended to uphold lies, nor support lies as policy ideals. Conciliation and tolerance must not include aid and comfort for harmful ideals nor seditious rhetoric. The “right of the people to peaceful assembly” is not what transpired on January 6th.
American Insurrectionists waged war in the very “temple of democracy” to overthrow our constitutional democratic republic, at the literal direction of the then sitting republican president — and now, they tell us to “calm down!” In a nation where “no man is above the law,” republicans, now the minority party, tell us that impeachment — that JUSTICE and accountability — is “stupid and bad for the country.” (~Marco Rubio, 24 January 2021, Fox News Sunday) The Trump republicans tell us we cannot have unity unless ignore that the sitting president incited armed insurrection against America.
“Calm down?” No. We will not calm down. We will not live in a world of “alternative facts” — not one day longer. Quantifiable truth will be our world. And yes, we can rebuild our national unity. But, national unity must be founded in equal justice and truth.