The frailty of the human structure, and the misery lurking in every molecule of flesh and blood, comes sooner or later to all of God’s children. Whether we be of color or lack of color, we share the same basic framework, and we will eventually share the same fate. I have been more and more often thus reminded, and have also been more uneasy about the certainty that I am sharing the same fate as is my country, America the Beautiful, the shining city on the hill. l see that two hundred and thirty odd years have begun to take their toll, and what was once the gold standard of the world has begun to show a patch or two of rust. But, you may counter,” Gold does not rust, old gray lady, where is your proof?” And the old gray lady, that being perhaps the tall greenish one in the harbor, might reply “Rust it might if it is not pure to the core.”
A gasp of surprise, or shock? Is the golden core of America impure? How can that be? It is a Christian nation, and proof of that is plentiful as the founding history stands on solid rock, built by men and women of immense courage and against tremendous odds. They came in wooden ships and lives were lost to the storms and passages through dangerous long days and nights, looking to live free or die. There were forgotten numbers lost to the seas or to the rough life ashore. Most of the early colonists died within the year, and their survival was aided by the people who were simply natives to the land at first. Failure was not an option to the hardier ones and others came in time to save the desire to establish a place in which a free person could build a free life. Yes, the core was pure at that time, and only when the occasion called for defense against attacks by unfriendly natives was there any need to fight, for there was land enough and room enough. The shining city was underway, and the bloody fighting had yet to occur, but occur it did when the oppressors were not pleased with the notion that the land was not being claimed for the crown but for freedom.
So, at intervals of growth and building and ships coming and going, a nation began to form and to find that it was indeed golden to be able to have homes and families and then villages and towns that they themselves could own. Of course the war of independence would have to come sooner or later, if the kings and royals insisted that they were to have all that was claimed in their name. The colonists did prevail, and they prevailed long and hard, not only against their own ancestry but against pirates who came with strong demands and threats and those did for a time prevail through brute strength. The gold was being pilfered by Barbary pirates from the lands of Arabia, and they were eventually driven out by the colonists. A difficult time, but again, the dream of the colonists held and they became their own nation, forming over time a constitution written by the men who had stepped forward as leaders, and among those were men of both dark and pale skin. The first shot fired in the war that settled the discussion was fired by Crispus Attucks, a man of color, and who died in the ensuing battles.
My own fate was already written, as over time, certain of my ancestors followed the same path, not marked with signs, This Way to The New World, but beckoned by the golden dreams of the first outsiders to come ashore and perhaps kneel and give thanks for a safe passage. My people were not the wealthy, the powerful, the educated who came on purpose because they could no longer endure life at the permission of a king of or other person of power. The desire to be free to live one’s own dream was so powerful that the fulfillment was inevitable. My people lived among the German, Dutch, British, French, Irish, Scottish, Spanish, Choctaw, and whoever else survived the journey, the seasickness, the fevers, the fear that was their companion, and yet they persevered.
Well, the old gray lady says that there is indeed rust on the golden dream, but the dream is a miracle in itself, as none can tarnish or cause to rust a chimera, a vision on the horizon which is still pure at the core. How does the old gray lady wind up the yarn, the end of the story in defense of the purity of the core? It is so simple it is almost laughable when the golden dream is proven to be pure: if it were not pure, there would not be even today thousands, nay, millions standing at the golden door, yearning to be free. At whatever price, coming to America is the core, and the ones who have smudged or tarnished that pure and golden core, they are the ones who will in time and with justice served, be forever separated from realizing that the God who created us did so in order that we should live in freedom, not at the bidding of any earthly sovereign.
July 4th is a reminder of the need to pay closer attention to what this nation stands for : Liberty and Justice for All.