The words of President Obama. That line says it all.
I don’t think I can remember such a remarkable ten days in my lifetime.
Someone can probably remind me of other events that come close in importance, for describing what it’s like for us to be citizens in the United States.
Yet when I look back on my life, I can’t seem to remember any time that compares with what we’ve just experienced: the racist murders in Charleston (and the loving forgiveness expressed by all the victim’s families), the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to allow the Affordable Care Act to move forward, and now today’s Supreme Court ruling that guarantees marriage equality for all Americans.
It was this last that President Obama inspired us with this morning, giving us the words I use to title this post.
As for me, I can’t think of any other words that describe so well where we are as Americans. Our nation is now a “little more perfect,” the president said, and I don’t think any of us can doubt the truth of that when he spoke about how “no matter who you are or where you come from, how you started off, or who you love, America is a place where you can fulfill your destiny.”
Here’s something else he said: “Americans should be very proud.” In speaking about how our move toward national marriage equality grew and continued – often against very difficult odds – and about how all the struggles and years of hard work went into bringing marriage equality into our society (and how it then got into the American mind-set so fast!) – he referred to today’s ruling as an “amazing achievement.”
Yes, “Americans should be very proud.”
Of course we’re asking how all this fits, especially in terms of what happened last week in Charleston.
And from the folks who are so opposed to the Affordable Care Act, the people who don’t want all American citizens to have health insurancce.
And yes, we’re hearing some ugly comments from some of the die-hards who won’t let up, who speak of their personal “freedoms” to believe what they want to believe, whether what they believe is for the good of society or not.
But every American citizen doesn’t fall into those groups, and I’m sensing that our society is going to figure out how to deal with that sort of thinking one of these days. Sooner rather than later, I’m hoping.
Why? Because the younger population will finally convince America’s leaders – regardless of the leaders’ age – that what they want for themselves and their children is a society that cuts through the selfishness, the political polarization, the pandering that seems to carry the day today. We’ll finally begin to recognize that the attempts to inhibit freedoms finally, at the end of the day, inhibit freedoms for everyone. Some levels of selfishness will simply have to give way.
And if we’re looking for inspiration beyond that provided by our president, we have only to hear the words of the Charleston victims’ survivors. There are ways to move forward, ways to be thinking of others, and forgiveness seems – to me – to be a good place to start.
Now I’m anxiously awaiting President Obama’s remarks this afternoon at Rev. Pinckney’s funeral.
We – as Americans – are going to continue moving forward. Especially now that we’re all included as Americans.