Sunday, November 13, 2016

I'm Staying American. How About You?

Because I love my country, Tuesday's election broke my heart. My fellow Americans -- less than half of us, but still too many -- turned their backs on what is best in our country to elect a man who has no love and no understanding of the things that make America great: freedom and equality.

Somewhere between forty-seven and forty-eight percent of voters decided that they wanted a race-baiting authoritarian instead. Those voters turned out not to love the same country I do, not to love it for the reasons it is worth loving.

But I still believe in that America. I believe in the America of liberty, equality, and justice for all, the America that has not always lived up to its values but still always had them. I am not quitting on that country. I was raised to love it, and I will die believing in it.

If America is about white people hating brown people, you can have it. That version of America can go to hell, and will. Yes, I know our history of racist violence and plunder. I cannot deny it. But I have no allegiance to that history. The America I believe in, the America worth believing in, has always existed alongside that uglier vision. They are the wrestling sides of the American soul. I am not done wrestling. If we give up on our better angels, there's no country left for me to love.

For the last five nights and days, I have been asking myself what I am going to do now. And I still have no answer but Whatever I have to. The path forward is not yet clear, and I am not ready for everything I may need to do. I am not eager for any of it. This is not the fight I would have chosen.

But I have had it easy. I grew up lucky in a free country, in a generation that was not asked much. I was a sunshine patriot, born in the sun. I could praise the heroes of our past, the Franklins and the Lincolns and the Dr. Kings, without having to ask if I would have met their challenge. That isn't true anymore. I wish it were, but it's not.

Some generations are asked to go to Valley Forge: to stand by their country when the outlook is darkest. Some generations are chosen to stand up for the American experiment, to risk and suffer for it, to bear witness. We have now become one of those generations, and we are off to a sorry start.  But this, of all times, is not the time to quit. This is when America, the America we grew up loving, needs us most. The time for the sunshine patriot is gone. These are the times that try men's souls.

crossposted from, and all comments welcome at, Dagblog

freedom for all under the law, equal protection and opportunity, and America dedicated to expanding

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