If the reader will permit, I would like to diverge from my travels and share a bit about the Constitution and history of our United States. I realize that many eyes begin to glaze in Pavlovian response thinking back to a former high school civics or history class. If so, I say shame on your teacher. All across America students rate social studies as their least liked - most boring subject. As a teacher, and as a citizen, I find this appalling for I cannot think of a more important and exciting subject than the grand drama of human events which have brought us to where we are today. To be ignorant of our country’s history is to be ignorant of ourselves.
I always ask students to imagine being on a trip, alone to the world and happily humming along. While camping for the evening you slip on a rock hitting your head and now suffer amnesia. You do not know your name. You do not know your family. You do not know who you are or where you’ve been. If so - you certainly would have no idea of where you were going.
We, as citizens of a country, have a collective persona - an American persona. If we ourselves have no or little knowledge of our past - how can we responsibly direct our future? In my opinion, we, as a country, have hit our heads on rocks and suffer from collective amnesia. Knowing little about ourselves, we have let go of the wheel and allowed others to drive our car - perhaps leading us in a direction we do not wish to go.
Where is the conversation?
When dressed publicly as a Colonial American I become a natural target for those harboring grievances against the country for past or current mistakes. Many times I have been approached my someone stating something of the sort, “Your people held my people in slavery!”
I accept this and agree saying that slavery was indeed awful but the Taj Mahal was built with slave labor - yet no one would advocate tearing it down. Our government, founded on the highest hopes and most noble ideals and principles, has not, honestly, had its door of democracy open to all groups - but I certainly would never tear it down. Instead, we must work together and continue, as Americans, pushing wide democracy’s door for all Americans.
I do not romanticize the past and have expressed previously the need to examine our history squarely. This does not mean we need dwell on the negative, but simply to acknowledge it and accept it. For as Patrick Henry said, “For it is only in this way that we can arrive at truth and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country.”
Think me naive but I wish to state that the United States, in spite of the hypocrisy - was founded on noble principles, noble ideals, by educated men with the noble goal of devising and creating what has been and continues to be a most noble experiment - our constitution. They created it and we today are its stewards. Shouldn’t we know something about it?
Did you know that our constitution is the oldest functioning constitution in the world?