John Pavlovitz recently published the following commentary. I find myself lamenting the same behavior that infects many of my fellow citizens.
America is Dead
JULY 16, 2019 / JOHN PAVLOVITZ
America is dead.
Not the America that I idealized as a boy; not the glittering beacon of equality I imagined it to be through the vaseline-covered lenses of my maleness and straightness and whiteness; not the star-spangled stuff of towering billboards, celluloid dreams, and black and white movie reels—promising every human being open-armed welcome and the unencumbered chase of life, liberty, and happiness.
That America, I’ve come to learn, never really existed. Its freedom and abundance were never fully available to everyone here. It had been built on the land and the backs of people who saw only a fraction of the promises made by the anthems and the slogans. I grieved the passing of that America long ago, like a childhood myth you one day wake up and realize you’ve outgrown and can’t fool yourself into believing anymore, as much as you want to.
The America that I came to know as real, was deeply flawed: erected on supremacy, steeped in misogyny, forged through force, and polluted with prejudice—but still beautiful in what it aspired to. Despite its fractured and ugly parts, that America was a place where I believed most people were trying really hard to make space for difference, to defend the vulnerable, to listen to someone else’s story.
The America I accepted as real, was a place where our leaders were expected to be public stewards of the dream. They were supposed to be the ones leading us to our better nature. They were there to steady us in turbulence and to bring clarity when confusion reigned. They were the people, at least on the surface—declaring the inherent worth of every human being and working to make each person feel seen and safe and welcome here.
The America I accepted as real wouldn’t tolerate an unrepentant racist at its helm.
That America is dead.
Our leaders no longer even need to pretend.
They can hate with impunity.
It is not lamented by their supporters, but celebrated.
From our most revered platform they can openly and with great enmity, declare the inferiority and inhumanity of an entire group of human beingsand it is simply amened by a choir of like-hearted loyalists; defended on talk shows and buttressed by political partners and boosted on bumpers: no, you are not welcome here—no, America does not want you.
Leaders can tweet out unthinkable cruelty and abject lies, and hurl every kind of otherizing slur about people and place those people directly in harm’s way—and no objections are raised by those who once would have held them accountable. They can lobby for people’s removal and eradication, and it is deemed acceptable, even Presidential.
In the presence of unapologetic bigotry from the very highest levels of our Government, millions do not bat an eye, they speak not a word of dissension, they do nothing to demand an elemental level of human decency—they expend no energy protecting vulnerable life.
And most heartbreaking, men and women who profess faith in a dark-skinned, itinerant, middle eastern rabbi who preached love of neighbor—are now the greatest perpetuators of violence against the poor and the assailed and the marginalized. Their silent complicity and vocal support is perhaps the worst of these recent deaths.
I used to look at my country and even when I saw its many deficiencies, I believed the people around me were at least attempting to be the best version of themselves and striving to do no harm. I no longer believe that about many of them—not because I want to believe that, but because they are telling me that. They are regularly and loudly pronouncing the America I once believed in to be dead.
Now I’m attending the funeral of another version of the country I love and trying to find reason to keep going. My only comfort is found in those who do grieve alongside me, those who are also disgusted by the malevolence so many have embraced, those who refuse to accept the unacceptable. They are the ones who will keep the idea of America from dying in the country called America.
I only hope that I can avoid not letting the dream of a better nation—one where everyone is truly welcome and treasured and given the chance to thrive—die in me.
(After https://johnpavlovitz.com/2019/07/16/america-is-dead/ via LMJ @ Facebook. Too important to let ads and superfluous graphics get in the way of the message.)