Division. Provided by a thick cloud of distraction. We’ve allowed ourselves to reduce each other to simplified, perfected issues on a screen rather than complex, imperfect people doing their best to live out “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” with the time we’ve been “endowed by our Creator”. And even if we disagree on the source, we can agree that those kinds of inalienable rights resonate with and are intended for the good of us all. It’s that framework where we have to agree to agree.
Because our nation divided against itself will fall but only if we allow ourselves to become separated by the freedoms afforded us by those Rights. However, if we establish an entitlement to our Rights, we can also agree to the means by which they are made practical – that governments exist solely to ensure them to us.
“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,…”
Because over the course of time, our forefathers knew mankind would prove their fallibility and coerce consent into personal security. The best man or woman, even when standing on solid principle, will slowly be tempted to reach beyond their footing to grasp at the allure of power and money when not held accountable. Then, rather than ensured, our Rights are turned into weapons intended to create neat and tidy packages of constituency in order to secure and maintain a lifestyle we’ve provided.
To lift the fog of distraction, we must reveal the truth of our condition. The truth of our condition as a nation is more readily seen in the streets than on a screen. It’s revealed in the courtesy and the smile one neighbor affords another during the course of our daily routines. It’s in the in-person effort we make to give the benefit of the doubt to someone with which we disagree in order to maintain civility, order and goodwill. Finally, it’s in the (perhaps unknowing) practice to realize and extend our Rights to “all men … created equal” because of the deep sense of “self-eviden[ce]” we have in their inalienability. And hopefully, if we develop muscle-memory from the exercise of our Rights in the street, it will become more readily available in the court of public opinion.
Our way forward is not around but through. We will have to continue to wade through our ideals and principles with our eyes wide open and regularly stopping to put our ears close to the ground. But my prayer is we’re able do it gracefully and without stepping on equal recipients of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”.