A couple weeks ago my husband and I took our African-American and mixed-race daughters to Williamsburg where we learned much about the American Revolution and our history of striving for independence and equality. The ideal was not met then, to say the least. It was deeply unsettling to think that our daughters' ancestors were enslaved then. And it was uncomfortable to think that if we lived back then our mothers and sisters were not be able to vote and were denied many other rights. Or for that matter would we be able to vote, since landholding males without mortgage were the only allowed to do so. The ideals of independence, individual liberty and equality that the men so fervently fought for were more true in the breach then, than the reality.
But as I stood there listening to Patrick Henry exhort us to independence, I realized that our mere presence that day, that first sentence I wrote just now, proved that the struggles of those founding fathers were not false hopes or tainted ideals. That some 200 years later the male descendent of Virginian English settlers, Native Americans and German immigrants could be married to the male descendent of California Spanish settlers and Mormon pioneers and stand there with their children descended from African slaves, Irish immigrants and Native Americans and all of use be independent and equal to those land holding white men who started a revolution, it gave testament to those men and their ideals.
It was never an easy road. It took a myriad political battles, a deadly civil war, suffrage and civil rights movements, world wars and depressions to get where we are today. Threats to our freedoms and well-being that make our current partisan hand wringing (on both sides at different times) look petty and childish.
Is everything right with our nation? Obviously not. There is a lot to do and much we disagree on and we will always struggle to find the answers. But are we in decline, is the very constitutional fabric of our nation about to unravel, are we about to become a fascist or socialist state? Are we a 'once great' nation? Are Democrats or Republicans going to destroy this nation and our freedoms?
If you think so, you need to step back for just a moment and view the landscape of our nation's history. Find perspective.
I am, and always have been, very proud of our nation. Some white landholding men wrote down and fought for an ideal of equality and liberty over 200 years ago and today through struggle and sacrifice that ideal is more true in the reality than the breach. That is a great accomplishment. That is a great nation.
So, work to right the breaches, discuss and battle those who have different opinions, but remember we are a great people who will only become greater. Our problems today are great, but are they as great as a civil war, or slavery or depressions or world wars?
We have weathered those to become more free and more equal, so I am confident we will weather Republicans and Democrats, recessions and squabbles.
How do I know this? Because two weeks ago I stood with my husband and our two daughters on the soil where it all began, all four of us free and equal because of those ideals and the promise they started and we have struggled to make real for over 200 years.