Like most Americans I believe in the dream of democracy. I dream of a “more perfect union” knowing that the union we claim is clearly far from being perfect at all. Nothing attests to that more than the events in our Capitol on January 6, 2021.
As frightening and tragic as that spectacle was, our democracy and its backbone, our Constitution, prevail.
Democracies by nature are governments of mixed differences, a Babel of voices and a shouting of needs. Therein lies their fragility. Our own is presently like a teenager, trying to figure out its identity. Its Constitution at times seems overly parental. Our country is founded on the rule of law but there are those who blindly believe in freedom and individuality, somehow seeing the law as impediment to those rights. I’d like to think that it’s all simply a matter of maturity, that as a nation we’re still too young to fully understand and implement the dreams of our Founding Fathers. Partly true, but there are other forces – external and internal – testing our vulnerability.
At times like these democracies need to prove their staying power. They do so not by obliterating differences and silencing voices but by adhering to the rules upon which a democracy’ is based; in our case, the Constitution. We are a nation of laws. That is never more true than in times of disorder. Accountability matters when things go haywire, but not just by those responsible for the chaos. Our government itself needs to be held accountable to listen to and hear what is being said, to speak the truth based on facts and to have its own say in the courts. In our country that is where honest dissent belongs.
Supremacists of any kind should find no home in a true democracy. The power of our government is meant to be shared. It’s how democracies work. Dissenters are part of the package and deserve to be heard. Freedom allows and at times needs that. But freedom comes with responsibility. Like power, it is never meant to be selfish or self-righteous. It, too, is meant to be shared but also holds accountable those who abuse it.
Our differences should be our strength, not our weakness. What we share, what we have in common certainly unites us but it is in our differences we find our growth, claim our future, and offer the world our true identity.