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The Evolution of America

 

rve
July 26, 2015

 

History fascinates me. It always has.

In studying the history of America, one dynamic is obvious: America has been struggling since its creation to manifest the intentions of its founding fathers.

In the Constitution, it is famously written: “…all men are created equal.”

These are fine, noble words. Yet, in reality these words were not practiced. When the Constitution was ratified In 1788, men of color were enslaved; they were certainly not considered equal to white men. Nor were women of color. In 1788, even white women were not considered equal to men. Far from it.

This massive disconnect — between ideals and practice — is understandable. The white men who wrote the Constitution were prisoners of their time, trapped by the zeitgeist of their era. It never occurred to them that their words were, in reality, far from the practiced norms of their era.

However, what makes me so proud to be an American is that my country has, since 1788, struggled to make manifest not the words of our founding fathers but rather their intentions: All people are created equal:

  • In 1865 slavery was made illegal.
  • In 1920, women at last gained the right to vote. All people could now vote, no matter their gender.
  • In 1948, Harry Truman ended segregation in the military. He was deeply appalled that some men (men of color), willing to die to protect America, should be treated like second-class citizens.
  • In the 1960s, segregation itself came to an end.
  • In 1967, interracial marriage was made legal. All people, no matter their color, could marry each other.
  • In 2015, all people, no matter their sexual orientation, could marry across the land.

 

Today, 227 years after the US Constitution was ratified, we still struggle to manifest the intentions of our founding fathers. This process has lurched forward for more than two centuries in fits and starts. But it has lurched forward.

There are plenty of people who think gay marriage is wrong. But there were plenty of people who deeply, ferociously believed — almost always based on religious convictions — that legalizing interracial marriage was wrong, that ending segregation was was wrong, that ending segregation in the military was wrong, that giving women the right to vote was wrong, and that ending slavery was wrong. Such people deeply believed that these societal changes would destroy America, and that such changes were against God.

However, these changes made America better. Stronger. More just.

These changes made America more as its founding fathers intended.

And all these changes were in accord with what Jesus Christ practiced and preached.

Today, Clarence Thomas sits on the Supreme Court. He is a man of color. But his wife is white. And their interracial marriage was made legal across the land by the very court he now presides on. Yet Thomas, in his dissent last week, would deny others the right to marriage based on the fact that their sexual orientation differs from his.

Since 1788, America has struggled to manifest the intentions of its founding fathers. These struggles have not been easy, and there has been anger and resentment and even bloodshed at every step of the way as America inches towards an ideal established in 1788: all people have a right to equal treatment.

All people.

I am proud of my country.

6 Responses to The Evolution of America

  1. Beautifully said. We all must keep working to achieve that “more perfect union” the founders envisioned. There’s still so much unfairness in the world, and so much left to do. But it feels good to stop and celebrate the victories as they happen, because they inspire us to keep moving forward.

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