Some Of Us Just Don’t Get It

 

Since I’ve been an adult, I’ve been conscious of the idea that a government can’t legislate the hearts of its people.  Never has that been more clear than with the recent actions of the Alabama Senate.

One hundred and fifty years after the start of The Civil War, and fifty years after the Freedom Riders took center stage in the Civil Rights movement, the Alabama Senate approved a bill that would eliminate language from its constitution that calls for poll taxes and separate schools for Black and White students.  When I read this in the May 13, 2011 issue of The Week magazine (page 6), I was stunned.  That’s May 13, TWO THOUSAND AND ELEVEN.

It then hit me: when President Obama was elected as our nation’s first African-American President, (the irony being that the history of American Black self-identification aside, he really IS African-American {its own story}), Alabama (a red state if there ever was one), still had this language in its constitution.  In fact, when a similar bill to eliminate such language passed in 2004, it was defeated in a statewide referendum.

So…with a Civil War won (well…I guess that depends on who one asks), civil rights legislation on the books, and a Black man as President of the United States (I purposely used Black here – I don’t want to reignite any more Birther bombs), there are STILL states in this country dragging themselves kicking and screaming out of the 20th century. So what makes us so reluctant to join the present?  Ultimately, we’re so blinded by our lust for wealth and power (is THAT the American dream?)  that we stomp on those we perceive as threats to the same.

What’s wrong with us??  Some of us just don’t get it.  We are ALL connected.  We are ALL responsible for one another.  And until we ALL get it, we will continue to flounder in the nightmarish sidebar of the American dream.  We will continue to stare at each other across the chasm of our overly-emotional and simplistic self-perceptions of what America is, and what America ISN’T.  Perceptions that are guided by emotion and centuries-old, hatred-tinged teachings, ignorant of the light and truth inside each of us.

The sad part is, while we Americans stare across that chasm at each other, other countries are lapping us in the do-or-die competition that is the world market.  We’re being out-American-ed.  Countries we once scoffed at in the global economy ring are playing Cassius Clay to our Sonny Liston.  And unless we “get it” soon, we’ll find ourselves face-down on the canvas.  And our American dream will turn into the nightmare of the knocked out.

Come on America.  We all want the American dream.  But…For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?  (Mark 8:36)

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