Notice to the rest of the world: These United States are still here.
Want to make a case against us? That’s easy. In fact, we’re doing it ourselves. The ugly truth is we never lost our innocence because we never were innocent. Even before we became a nation, we hanged women as witches and entrapped slaves, and after we became a nation we burned Catholic convents, and bullied and beat our neighbors who voted different. Truth is, for many of our 240 years as a nation, we have been bloody, violent, arrogant and wrong. We did wrong in Minnesota, we did wrong in Baton Rouge, and Missouri. And Philadelphia, Mississippi. And My Lai, Vietnam. And all along the Rio Grande (especially Brownsville, Texas). And down into Guatemala. And last night in Dallas. And that other time in Dallas. And, you’re right, I haven’t even mentioned wrongs against Native Americans, LGBT, and so many people and places I don’t remember or never knew about. We are often sorely, grievously, heinously, bloodily wrong.
But, world, don’t you get us wrong. You know about our wrongs because these United States are still strong enough, secure enough, free enough, open enough, caring enough, civilized enough, horrified enough by our own stupidity, and don’t forget courageous and hopeful, we are still courageous and hopeful enough, to let the world see us at our worst, in fact we stream the damn thing live, post it in the plainest language, and protest protest protest.
We’ll get through this mess. Because we can. Because we are free to choose. Flawed as we are, we have choices in how we live, how we behave toward each other, how we vote. We have choices about how to respond to what happened in Dallas. For almost two and a half centuries our nation has been an experiment in governance, with no guarantee as to the eventual outcome. It’s always been a risky project. We are still learning how to choose wisely. Yet, stumbling along as we do, as of this morning these United States are still here, more open than many, still freer than most. We have work to do.