A LETTER TO THE SOCIETY THAT RAISED ME
I’m shocked. I’m scared. I’m lost.
You taught me that we are a great nation. Great nations don’t bully the weak.
You taught me to be tolerant. Tolerance is not roughing up people who don’t agree with you.
You taught me that we should love our enemies. Then don’t taunt them.
You taught me that Jesus said the meek shall inherit the earth. The meek don’t say “I alone.”
You taught me to embrace family values. But you chose someone who was married three times and bragged about violating others.
You taught me to judge carefully. But you stereotype.
You taught me to share. But you keep taking more and more.
And now you want me to accept this outcome.
We don’t honor liars. We don’t name streets after hypocrites. We don’t build monuments to those who represent all that is wrong.
But we do elect them president.
America, I don’t know you.
But I want to know you. I want desperately to understand. Please don’t respond anonymously with vitriolic screeds here or on the blogs. Please tell me that the Golden Rule means something, that we really should treat others the way we want to be treated.
Let’s talk as a community about some things on which we might all agree: that we all need decent jobs that pay the bills, that we all want to be safe, that we all want to be respected, that the color of our skin, the faith we choose, the sexual orientation with which we were born, should not be factors in whether we might get those jobs, that safety or respect. Please tell me that we all still embrace those certain inalienable rights we guarantee each other in our Constitution and its Bill of Rights so many of our loved ones died to protect. These seem to me to be the things on which all of us might be able to agree. They make us Americans.
The question, then, is how we get there. Let’s put down our fists, our signs, our hateful but anonymous e-mails. Let’s be the Americans we were all raised to believe made us special.
I have put everything I’ve got into trying to make our world a better place for those who are left out. I learned it in church. I try to run Community Action based on core values; we are super cheap, with administrative costs below 10% of our expenses and our salaries well below most others with similar skills. As the years have worn on I am finding those who oppose the principles I listed above to be nastier, more intolerant, less sympathetic. I have often fought fire with fire, contributing to the ratcheting of rhetoric to meaner levels. You say I am at fault; I say you are at fault. I say yes, you say no; you say stop and I say go, go, go.
Can we agree on some other things? Can we agree to stop using hateful, childish names in reference to the people with whom we disagree? Can the folks on the right stop accusing people whose limited skills are of little value in today’s market of being lazy welfare bums? Can the folks on the left stop acting like every successful businessperson is a money-grubbing, worker-screwing, environment-spoiling creep?
Can we agree that the world is getting too small to spend so much time taking each other down rather than building each other up?
If we can’t, the future is grim. Our children and our children’s children will pay a horrendous price. Surely, we can all agree that that is just not acceptable.