The Tea Party drives me nuts. All this taking our country back stuff and championing the intentions of the founding fathers gives me the heebie-jeebies. Now before we start drawing battle lines or calling names I should also put it out there that I’m equally perturbed by the occupy movement and those who are simply looking for something to gather together and shout about. All this gathering and shouting from all sides. Gives me a headache. Heartache too.
Let us talk a bit instead.
I love the United States of America. Really I do. Apple pie isn’t really my favorite but I love brownies, steaks from Texas, and think football was created by heavenly angels. Those angels were in no way associated with the SEC or the BCS, possibly Notre Dame, but more likely in direct ministration to Walter Camp. I feel an emotional connection to the Rocky Mountains, love the stars and stripes, and I truly believe God had a hand in the constitutional convention.
But I don’t believe that after that convention, God put his hands back in his pockets.
That idea is silly. That idea is as silly as the idea that George Washington had dinner with Abraham Lincoln where they discussed Ford model T’s. It is as silly as believing that Frederick Douglass was only 3/5ths human or that James Madison designed the Wright Flier. The world today is not what it was back then, for both better and worse, and that is why we still need some divine intervention.
What that intervention should be, or in what way, in whose favor, or when, or on what subject, is surely open for debate and I in no way claim the corner on the answer market. But the debate needs to happen and I’m fine with it being a debate. A debate of ideas, solutions, and substance. Too often both of the parties or groups I noted at the beginning don’t debate, they hate. They demonize and dramatize. There is surely cause for dramatic actions, but much too often that isn’t what is called for. We don’t really call for action, we call names.
Let’s knock it off.
Let us pull our stakes out of the ideological ground and look for solutions to problems and form plans to do what is best.
Here is why I say we can’t do this while holding to strict ideologies. Here is why we can’t determine a political philosophy, set it in cement, and then move forward from there. Allow me to illustrate using race and American racism as an example.
Race is perhaps one of the most divisive and dangerous subjects to discuss. There are reasons for this. Within this debate there is an idea known as “institutional racism” or “structural racism”. Just the writing or mentioning of those words sends both the left and the right into a tizzy. The right will accuse those who say such terms are unpatriotic or America haters. The left will call those making those accusations racist. This is because we aren’t talking or debating, we are both, both sides, too busy name calling. It is a shame that there is so much yelling because it drowns out anyone explaining what those terms mean.
I will use cement as an example.
To build with cement a worker must first create a form or mold out of something else. Normally two by fours and other scrap wood is used to build the outline of whatever structure is being built. Once in place concrete can be mixed and poured into the mold and allowed to dry. Once the cement is dry, or set, the scrap wood can be taken away and the cement stands on its own.
And cement can stand solid for a long, long time.
If something is planted in that cement when it is wet, like a street corner basketball hoop perhaps, once the cement dries you could quite accurately say that object is set in stone.
If we see the founding of the United States and its constitution, or maybe our political ideologies as a concrete object, we have some problems to contend with.
You see when the framers of the constitution, the construction workers of the time, were mixing the concrete they were using some suspicious materials. There was some freedom and liberty mixed in there, I love those things. There was also some capitalism and private property stirring in the pot, also good stuff. But then there was this integral ingredient of slavery, racism, and the money it produced.
Now make no mistake, racism and slavery were definitely in the mix. Key ingredients. A good portion of those at the convention would have never been able to spare the time, or the thoughts, to do the work they did had they been actually laboring on the farms they owned. It is where most of the American money of the time was produced. It was all mixed in. And the forms, or structure around the American wet cement, stayed in place for at least a hundred years. By the time those supports were stripped away, that cement was good and set. It was set so hard that a civil war couldn’t bust it up. Like a rock.
Then what to do with all that scrap wood?
That is the problem with forms built of wood, they aren’t part of the mix. When slavery ended, and then again at the time of the civil rights act, there were all these people, black people, who had been used for so long to prop up the structure of American society, but not mixed into the original cement. What were they to do?
What was, and to this day is, America to do?
If America and its ideologies are set in stone there is no hope. At least not for “them”.
And that right there is really the rub. That right there is why all the political bomb throwing and name calling prevent any solutions. At least no solutions for those not in the original mix.
You see once cement is set it no longer has to expend any energy, or try, to stay standing. It is just there, a solid mass that exists without having to try. White America today doesn’t need to be racist, or hate black people, or even think about black people at all. They, or we, the white people, were stirred in when the cement was wet. Now, the black people are on the outside and no one even has to try to keep them there. That work has already been done.
Now this is not to say there isn’t anything that can be done. Or even mean that nothing has been done. But what this surely means is that for any sort of integration or incorporation to happen for black people, something must be done.
It won’t just happen on its own.
What should be done and by whom, and how, is open for debate. So let’s discuss and debate. But for this debate to get anywhere, or rather for solutions to appear, I really hope that Americans aren’t set in stone. I hope this whole analogy is wrong and moot. Or maybe the cement is still wet? I hope this because if it isn’t wet, and it is cement, then the only hope is to get out a jackhammer. If this whole America thing was concrete at its founding then it all has to be torn up and begun again.
I don’t want to do that.
There is a lot of good stuff in the mix. Great stuff. Godly stuff. I love this place.
It can be better.
But it will only get that way if we work at it and if we really look for ways to solve our problems. It is not yesterday and using yesterday’s tools does not always work. Thomas Jefferson, as wise and inspired as he was, did not concoct a plan for what to do about air traffic control. Online piracy was not a problem then.
I think Thomas Jefferson was wise and inspired and may very well have some bits of the answers in the work he did. The problem is, that if the work he did was mixed in cement, we can’t get at it today.