I wonder if Hollywood is on to something? Outside of the hype around the latest vampire flick which seeks to steal as much of the Black Friday money as they can, the movie about Lincoln opened post-election. After the re-election of America’s first African-American President along comes a movie about the president who led the country through a Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation. Any student of Lincoln should be well aware that his personal views on the “rights” of black and brown people were nothing to be celebrated. What I find interesting is the timing of the release of a movie about a time when states were trying to secede from the United States and the calls for secession by folks in all fifty states following the most recent election. Those calling for secession claim the rest of the country has become less American, which of course translates less white, less Christian, less English speaking, etc. The secessionist claim the Constitution, written by and for white, property owning, men is under attack. Their America has been lost. And, these nationalist are correct. The America they believe in, a nation of white, male, Christian privilege, is on the way of extinction because of an inability to adapt to the changing environment the American experiment created in the first place. Gareth Price recently blogged:
The curious aspect of U.S. state secession is that the agitation is not to become more Floridian, Tennessean, or Alabamian. Instead, secessionists define their states as more American than America itself. By seceding, they wish to preserve America against the encroachment of, well, America.
Tomorrow many in America will enact the annual gluttonous day of gorging on over-sized meals in a pale attempt to give thanks for the abundance of this great land. Following the tradition, rooted in days when people ate the fruits of the harvest in mass before they rotted, many will participate in the “make or break” retail event of the year. All the while, the bitter divides of color, income, gender, language, belief, sexual orientation, etc. boil under the surface and in increasing cases right in our faces.
I’d like to ignore the whole talk of succession, however even though the numbers of people signing petitions are quite small, the sentiment they represent is quite large. Fear of losing some fantasy identity based on the supremacy of one group of people, is powerful and dangerous. History has too many examples of the destructive nature of such fear.
Well, whether Hollywood has the pulse of their consumers or some vision of the future, the question for each of us should be how will we contribute to making this place we call home a more perfect union?
- Will we dispel the myths which work to divide us?
- Will we counter the naysayers with hope for the future?
- Will we give thanks for the America we are becoming and not just the America we once were?
We may choose to join the fear bandwagon and believe the worst or we may tune out from the fear mongers and take notice of the success of the American experiment so far. I hope we continue to become a people embracing diversity, valuing persons over all else, and growing in our identity as members of the Global, human family.
I’ll close this post with a quote from President Abraham Lincoln establishing Thanksgiving Day:
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God…
…It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.