posted on Apr, 16 2018 @ 01:38 PM
How does one go about facing a task that is well out of one’s league? Until now, I have mostly avoided topics that I assumed to be out of my reach,
where the scope is too grand for my limited perspective. But I’ve been watching and listening, reading a little, writing more than ever, and I can
see we all have a tremendous problem (don’t you see it?) and ignoring it has only let it fester and grow uncontested. We have been focusing our
attention on mostly superficial issues, treading water and the more we talk the less we seem to understand each other.
**All that to say, please forgive me for any and all inadequacies in my presentation of such a raw and weighty subject.
Facing Down the Horrors of Our Nation’s Past.
America, Land of the Free, is a nation/notion I desperately want to believe in. I do feel a slight sense of pride when thinking about our flag and my
country, and can name and acknowledge a great deal of beneficial ideas and technology that were advanced here, and stand behind the foundation
established by our Constitution. My paternal side came over to humble beginnings (my great grandfather immigrated from Slovenia, and was killed in a
Christmas Eve coal mine collapse, my grandpa forced to sweep factory floors when he was 8 so his family of 6 could eat), and most of the men in my
family have served our country in various “engagements” (wars- that is another topic entirely). My dad worked hard his whole life and achieved
the “American Dream,” at least to his own satisfaction. On my mom’s side, we have some family who preceded the Revolution and others who fled
Ireland in times of trouble to find refuge here. My in-laws emigrated from Japan and established themselves as Americans-- they take pride in this
country as their own. I have travelled to numerous countries and haven’t found one in which I’d rather live; in short, I love it here.
But… there is a dark side to America. From its inception (I’m talking about The United States of America, not the land pre-colonist) until now,
this country has accumulated a very long list of grievous atrocities, and we are at a point now where we can either face and atone for our history or
spiral deeper into a fragmented and unstable society. There simply is no more room under the rug in which to brush our dirt. I would like to make
one thing clear here: NONE of us are directly or indirectly responsible for the wrongdoing of others. The approach our country has taken to its
atrocities has been one of diffusing an uneasy guilt and/or victimhood over its citizenry, while never officially acknowledging the horrors done in
the government’s name or never bringing the real perpetrators (most of who are long dead) to justice.
Surely none of my readers need to be reminded of particular horrors done in the government’s name, but I do think that with the distance of time, it
becomes easier to forget the terrible nature of certain crimes, and why we have swaths of our population still suffering real and psychological
effects (PTSD) from grievous injustices done and never rectified.
The flag debate was an interesting one, and I think we are doing ourselves and everyone else harm when we don’t acknowledge that the US flag may
have different or conflicting meanings to some.
One good example is of the Sand Creek Massacre, where an estimated 60-200 (so sad there is no official number) men and mostly women and children were
killed and butchered/mutilated/brutalized by a branch of the US Army. The chief had gathered the children around him, and was holding a US flag and a
White flag of surrender when they cut him down. How can an ardent defender of the American flag expect the cloth to mean the same thing to Native
Americans as it does to him/her?
I think it is time for ALL of us Americans to be more understanding and real when it comes to the social issues we are facing. For many black
Americans, American Indians, and others (Japanese Concentration Camp prisoners, Chinese rail workers, poor European immigrants wooed into grueling
factory work, etc) America the Beautiful might never have existed.
On the flip side, many “white” Americans escaped horrific oppression/genocide themselves to settle in the United States and might have a
completely different perspective about the country, as might some of the innumerable immigrants from Africa/South America/the Middle and Far East. We
are a varied and colorful populace, mostly united by certain ideals, but we cannot blame others if they have a different and not-so-positive
perspective based on real historical--and present--conditions.
Here is the good news-- I have faith that America the Beautiful CAN exist, and already does to enough of an extent that it is absolutely worth
Truth and Reconciliation
What will it take to rectify the wrongs done?
The first part of truth and reconciliation is the most crucial-- our government needs to officially recognize the past wrongs done, admit to genocide
and in very plain speech admit to the explicit and implicit atrocities in which the government has participated. History books should be rewritten to
show the true nature and names of the perpetrators of massacres, pictures of people smiling around public lynchings should be shown in textbooks just
as often as a statue of an old Confederate soldier is displayed so that we can know the full TRUTH. “White people” didn’t do it, but that one
particular town in Indiana (for example) DID and we should know about it if we are to know about our own (human) nature--the GOOD as well as the BAD--
and come to terms with our nation's checkered past.
In addition to an official acknowledgement and apology (done in the spirit of truthfulness and of righting wrongs in order to strengthen and rectify
our image!), I do think the government had some responsibility to ensure justice for all. This might mean extending some reservation lands and
focusing on education in impoverished areas, providing PTSD counseling, meeting with community leaders about problems facing the community, changing
the laws or the way certain laws are enforced so that certain demographic are not disproportionately targeted and punished for offenses.
Any other ideas here? By using resources wisely, our government absolutely CAN ensure a more positive and unified future for all Americans. And of
course, we ALL benefit from having a healthy and happy citizenry.
I hope this issue reaches just a few others who are as passionate about finding solutions as I am. Please comment here with some ideas! I know we
can make a change, and I truly believe that right now is the time to start advocating for ourselves and others before our country devolves into
something we no longer recognize.