Apologize for being White, or maybe not. Or, maybe, reject the notion that racism holds back African-Americans, or perhaps, wrap the whole premise of the foundation and purpose of America around it instead.
The dizzying nature of social media, mainstream media, political rallies, and public relations posturing leads Americans every day down a path where everyone can find their truth within a topic, circumstance, or viral video. However, our nation continues to lose the ability to claim the truth within our nation and know it without fail. Truth, justice, and the American Way are now only axioms from a comic book. The belief that all children deserve a quality education that should not be tied to their zip code or the idea that all citizens are innocent until proven guilty by a court of law sounds good rhetorically, but the intellectually-honest and moral pursuit of such common sense goals are guided more by subjectivity driven by a determination to win arguments than a vision driven to win the future.
The unifying truth that once permeated in America during times of war or international crisis now is a casualty in the culture clashes that are ripping the nation apart. Now, we face an inconvenient set of truths reflecting through ongoing protests in our towns and discord found throughout the nation:
Almost half of young Americans today would prefer socialism in the United States – even a misunderstood socialism — over the current system of civics, while another third of those within Generation X and the Baby Boomer Generation concur;
Parents are watching their adult children make less money than they did at the same stages of their careers, leading many to believe that the essence of the American Dream – that their children would do better than they did – is being lost;
People of color (notably African-Americans) continue to see that they must have two additional levels of education in order to reach the same levels of employment as their fellow Americans that are White;
Those deemed as the “honorable poor” are urban residents that fight daily for economic advancement, education equality, and civic protections. Those deemed as the “dishonorable poor” are the forgotten rural Americans that rightfully seek those same opportunities, yet might not fit into convenient storylines for the mainstream media;
People are tired of having the patriotism of Americans from all creeds, colors, and backgrounds being equated with that of insurrectionists from a war lost two centuries ago. People are tired of subjective definitions of “appropriate patriotic protests” based on media allegiances and voting patterns.
Yet, despite all this, there is a truth that remains: the re-commitment to the highest tenets of our Constitution and its defense of civil rights for all Americans is the most prudent thing that we can do as a nation right now. It is the surest way to quell the tensions, heal the nation, and uplift our posterity towards a better quality of life through common equality.
Radical laws to disband police forces or implement explosive tax rates to “address income inequality” should be avoided. Instead, a novel yet conservative notion: a profound re-commitment to the protectionary promises of civil rights within the founding “contract with America”. It is the courageous, under-utilized, and oft-overlooked solution we need during these modern challenges.
Dr. King noted that the promissory note of American equality and justice was in default. This complaint rings true today. It is at the heart of our woes even as the details of tragedies and the swirled winds of politics obscure our gaze upon the rudimentary issue. A courageous conviction to be all that we say we are – and, as of yet, have never quite managed to become – is the tool to reward society’s ongoing toil.
Addressing the police-community tensions? It’s simple: protect the principle of “innocent until proven guilty”, upheld at the risk of civil and/or criminal consequence. Such adherence would prevent shootings and deaths of Americans during trivial or crimeless interactions.
Addressing education gaps? Remove the arbitrary barriers that allow for the re-segregation of schools in America and initiate students into the school-to-prison pipeline. There is nothing more incongruent with the notion of liberty than demanding that parents be forced to send their children to places that will misshape and under-develop their minds during their most formative years.
Addressing the economic disparities of opportunity that haunt the nation? Legally confront institutions that deny opportunity based on extra-constitutional maneuvers akin to the spirit of Jim Crow realities. The needless pruning of the American Tree at the sake of wasting some of its valuable fruits through discrimination is a national security breach that should be addressed prudently during our fight against economic and technological threats globally.
Most of what we must do as a nation – from the elimination of oppressive laws to the creation of a few tactical, common sense protections – calls for us to lean on a document we craved in times of tensions, augment when we have acknowledged our shortcomings, and champion when unity was needed. In the American Experiment that has fostered radical diversity and historical successes despite our flaws, our primary challenge now is to take the necessary steps to fulfill the hopes of our forefathers – slaves and soldiers, generals and Walmart greeters, naturalized citizens and native sons alike. It’s not that hard to figure out, but it may be tough to do. And the primary way to do it is through a fully-inclusive Constitution.
Our retreat from the most basic of American pillars occurs as we confound our “truth” with the American truth – one that sometimes is just but uncomfortable, sound yet exogenous, and infallible yet unrelatable. On issues of race relations, gender equality, and cultural respect and appreciation, our collective empowerment of the Constitution too often extends only as far as our eyes can see, our voices resonate, and our friends call home. Under that notion, America does not operate as a democratic republic that honors God-given rights for all. Instead, it waddles along as a bloated bureaucracy, ruling through a “50% + 1” mob rule mentality that pursues approval ratings from pollsters more than consent from a common people and blessings from a just God. Our national aversion to commonly-embraced constitutionality has made us unhealthy in our words and deeds. It’s striking at our hearts right now. And yet, we have the remedy already.
Our course correction must start with a redirection back into understanding who we are as Americans, embracing the American Dream for all Americans, and honoring the promises within our founding documents for all Americans. That prompts us to look forward through the promises that made America a beacon, not backward at broken promises scattered across the history of socialism. Liberty is not subjective, nor is it free. However, it should be available for all within our nation – including those young Americans seeking the fulfillment of our generations-long rhetoric. It will take courageous convictions – not just courageous conversations – to uplift us all.