Love/Hate Relationship

It’s been a big day, America. Weddings and funerals. SCOTUS ruled in favor of marriage equality, and the President sang Amazing Grace at the end of his eulogy for Rev. Clementa Pinckney. We were reminded of our capacity to grow and change on an ever moving trajectory towards liberty, and we were reminded of how far we have yet to go.

It is on days like today that I am most reminded of what Ralph Ellison had to say about our nation: “Personally, I am too vindictively American, too full of hate for the hateful aspects of this country, and too possessed by the things I love here to be too long away.” It’s a great quote, not least because it was made by a man who spent much of his life marginalized by his own countrymen. That he could still find things to love even when much of the country considered him subhuman because of a coincidence of birth is evidence of the power of this country: one can be oppressed by its institutions and still believe in its promise. I’ve written this before, and I imagine I’ll right it again, but America is not just a place. It is an idea. It is a collection of ideals we are constantly reaching for, getting closer each time we recognize the uniqueness of our individual experiences within the unity of our humanity. At it’s beginning and throughout it’s history, America is a movement, a revolution, a call to action, and an opportunity to be better, every day, for all the days we have.

We swing on a pendulum, it is true. And for many of us, I think for most of us, there are too many days at the dark, violent, chaotic side of that swing. June 17th was a terrible day for America. June 26th was a great one. We don’t know what a week from today holds for us, but I know that the days to come will be brighter than the days before, because we are a people who believe in justice and liberty for all, even if that all comes too slowly. Let’s work together to speed it up.

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