As you’ve probably surmised from yesterday’s post, I’ve been in something of a funk for the last few weeks. Watching my country, the land that I love, seemingly tear itself apart and being unable to do anything about it pushed me to the brink of despair. I was ready to give up on it, on America, on Liberty, because nobody cared anymore. Those who seek to tear it down, to reshape it into a perverse and twisted “social utopia” are running roughshod over the Constitution because almost nobody can be bothered to lift a finger to stop them, and the few who try are mercilessly trampled into dust.
I confess: I actually woke up this morning thinking, “Why bother? What is there that’s left to celebrate?”
Then I stumbled across this quotation, from a letter written by John Adams to his wife upon the Second Continental Congress’ adoption of the Declaration of Independence:
You will think me transported with enthusiasm, but I am not. I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory; I can see that the end is more than worth all the means, that posterity will triumph in that day’s transaction, even though we should rue it, which I trust in God we shall not.
Reading that, it dawned om me that Adams, and likewise the rest of our Founding Fathers, knew that the fight for Liberty did not end with the signing of the Declaration, nor would it end if – yes, if, not when – the Colonies succeeded in freeing themselves from the overpowering yoke of British tyranny and expelling the Redcoats from their shores. No, they knew that the struggle would be ongoing and eternal, that there will always be those who seek to extinguish the sacred flame of Liberty, from both beyond and within our borders. But at the same time, they knew that they must persevere in their quest, as must the succeeding generations, because the price of Liberty, no matter how great, would always be worth the cost.
And at the same time, I realized that America is not just a country, and it is not just a people: it is an idea.
It is the idea that Liberty and Justice exist for all people. Period. The End. Full Stop. End of Discussion. Not “for white property owners,” or “for former slaves,” or “for the rich,” or “for the poor,” or “for homosexuals, ” or “for heterosexuals,” or “for the elite,” or “for This Specific Religion,” or “for the Oppressed Group of the Month.” No. Liberty and Justice for all people, for all time.
It is the idea that a person, any person, can walk down any street in any neighborhood in any city in any state in this nation and be judged by their peers not by color, or creed, or by anything else except the content of their character or the lack thereof.
It is the idea that we are born into this world as equals, but where we go from there is determined only by our own goals, dreams, and aspirations, and how much of our own blood, sweat, and tears we are willing to shed in order to accomplish them.
It is the idea that we are measured not by how hard our lives are, but by how hard we work to build a better lives for ourselves and our children.
And if that idea is not worth celebrating, if that idea is not worth fighting for, then I don’t know what is.
And looking at the social media outlets, the same one that I was ready to give up on and unplug from, I discovered something that I should have known all along: that I am far from the only one who feels that way.
America is not perfect, I will be the first to admit that. We’ve had plenty of problems along the way, made mistakes, dark spots on our history, and there are likely more problems and mistakes to come.
Is America in trouble? It certainly seems that way to me, but then again it seems to me to have been in trouble since our very beginning but we have always endured, always overcome, and I believe that we will continue to do so in the future.
Is America in danger of collapse, of falling? For the first time in a long time, I can confidently say that my answer is a resounding “no!” America cannot collapse, not so long as a single person holds the idea in their heart, and is willing to fight for. And as I have seen today, there are plenty of Americans who still hold the cause of Liberty near and dear to them, and who are willing to fight, to suffer, and to die for it.
And that too is, I think, something worth celebrating.