It’s Sunday morning and this was a long week at the end of a long presidential campaign in the United States of America. When I awoke this morning and began preparing the coffee pot, going through the motions of water, filter, and grounds, my mind muddled through words like: division, anger, hope, plans, confidence, disappointment, differences, communication, planning, listening, assumptions, win, lose, apathy, passion, confusion, opinion. There are also words like: future, target, money, poverty, rights, entitlement, argument, taxes, war, consensus, error, habit, belief.
“All the world's a stage, / And all the men and women merely players; / They have their exits and their entrances…” wrote Shakespeare, and it seemed true this week, when the TV pundits, so eager to tell us “This Is A Very Important Event!”, to shout at us of its importance and to put before us many experts who passionately told us how important it all was...and the more they shouted the less important it began to feel to our numbing minds. But, yes, it was very important. And now it is past. And now for everyone--for all of us--the rest of the story.
United States of America. The very word “united” implies a division, for you cannot unite something that is already one. Something that is already one, like one person, or one thought, or one tree, cannot be united with itself. We are united because we are different. Because there are lines. And all the lines are manmade. Property lines. State and county lines. Party lines. None of these lines were here on this land we now call America a thousand years ago. All of these lines were created by us. They can be strengthened or destroyed by us.
We are the United States of this land, America, but only a generation more than 200 years old. And that is the good news and the sobering news. Look at all we’ve accomplished in 200 years. Look at what other countries of the world accomplished in 400, in 800 years. We didn’t invent government, but we did create something unique for its time and enduring yet today. A Constitution. A Bill of Rights. And an sense of who we are, together, that evolves, changes, and gives birth to what will be the truth of who we are as a nation in 2013, 2113, and 2213.
Did our forefathers and -mothers consider a nation for their descendants in 2013? I think they did. They knew they were not just reacting to something in the present, but building something for the future. They didn’t have television or easy access to books or the Internet, but what they did have was a sense of history, community, mortality, and the future.
What about us? Do we envision the United States of America in 2213? How can we build on what unites us and on what we know of history and dream of for our descendants to create a United States of America that will be: in government “a shining light on a hill,” in hopeful minds an inspiring thought, and in our place on earth one of physical beauty and preservation?
This is what is before us now. To take the parts that we are, the parts represented by words such as: anger, hope, plans, confidence, disappointment, differences… and continue on as the United States of America.
The government website for the US Constitution states: “The work of many minds, the Constitution stands as a model of cooperative statesmanship and the art of compromise.”
You can only have cooperation and compromise when there are differences. United States of America. That’s what we are. That’s what moves us forward.