THIS IS AMERICA.
This is America. Eating Mexican food and editing a paper for a brilliant student, child of immigrants from Mexico, while watching Trump talking about deporting "bad hombres".
This is America. Reading Walden by Thoreau, questioning the status quo, realizing maybe the GDP isn't our only measure of value. As Bobby Kennedy said in a speech in 1968:
"Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product - if we judge the United States of America by that - that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage.
It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl.
It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.
Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.
It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.
And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans."
This is America. Valuing the sanctity of life. Really. Abortion is awful, we get it. Let's think holistically. Women, families, mass incarceration, the death penalty, gun violence, and war. How many lives have we actually taken?
This is America. There is hate and fear and disengaging because our options are limited. But who are we to demand our ideas of perfection? Because illegal immigrants and refugees and those on death row don't get to. Because degraded women and those with disabilities and those living in poverty don't get to. Because all of humanity doesn't get to, because who is there among us demanding and fully creating perfection within ourselves. May we recognize for many it has always been a choice between the lesser of evils.
This is America. Some of us want to build a wall, to hold power, and to claim our superiority. Some of us want to appear philanthropic and successful, while our interior life is in shambles, a toxic and parasitic disaster. Where there may appear to be greatness, there is simultaneously fear and confused nobility.
This is America. A nation built on Christian values or the backs of slavery, degradation of women, the poor, and the oppressed, and injustice so deep it makes your stomach turn. Peace, hope, and inclusion... Violence, gun rights, and mass murders. Progress and reversal. Confusion in our exterior society mirroring confusion in our interior lives. Values and morality, pick your poison (but not your imperfect presidential candidate), and your Bible verses to back it up.
This is America. It works and it doesn't. I think most of us are trying, but often lacking cohesion and vision. Are we fighting for the GDP or the NRA? Are we fighting for peace or war? Are we fighting for sanctity of life or against abortion? Are we fighting for the oppressed or ourselves? Are we fighting for power or peace? What is it that we are fighting about? Thoreau wrote in Walden:
"There are thousands hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root, and it may be who bestows the largest amount of time and money on the needy is doing the most by his mode of life to produce that misery which he strikes in vain to relieve...
"We should impart our courage and not our despair, our health and ease, and not our disease, and take care that this does not spread by contagion."
This is America. We are not alone, neither today nor in history. It is all recycled ideas. We are not the first to really see. But what can we do with our vision?