From our beginnings we of European descent come primarily from people who were evicted, dissatisfied, persecuted, or limited by the societies of their homelands. People who sought to stake their lives on the potential of an unknown land. They brought with them a purpose, a will, and a desire for more than they had for both themselves, their children and their children's children. Unfortunately, they also brought along the bad of their societies, sickness, slavery, and the idea of class distinction. Subsequent to our founding others have come to this land for a number of similar reasons bringing with them their own traditions and values, or were brought against their will to serve the plantations. Some have sought to integrate into the nation, others have sought to maintain their own heritage, but each has added to the fabric of our nation.
As our nation expanded we were able to focus not on our differences, but on what we might become. In the course of that expansion we faced the division of our nation over the idea that one man should enslave another. In the end, the northern view that black slavery was unacceptable won out, but the physical victory could not prove the moral rightness of this to men and woman who chose not to accept the outcome. That simple fact lives with us today and is played on by those who seek power through division. Dr. King sought equality for a people based on the moral certainty that equality was right. Today’s leaders seek not equality but domination of their views that grandchildren and great grandchildren of former slaves have by their heritage been short changed and should receive special consideration.
The leaders and progressive movements in Government, Education and Industry have attempted to find ways to rectify the sins of the past through entitlement, and preferential scholarship and hiring. Now, some 50-years past the Civil Rights Act, I look back and wonder, have these programs worked for the average black man or woman, or have they served only to enrich the powerful?
It is good from time to time to think back on our founder’s and consider the wisdom of these exceptional men who studied, argued and compromised to create something the likes of which the world had not seen. George Washington, led the 1st Continental Army, led the Constitutional Convention, and served as our first President, setting the tradition that power should be limited and short lived through his decision to retire at the end of his second term. His words in his 1796 farewell address formed the basis of our national approach for many years, lately they seem to have been cast aside.
In his words, “The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.”[i]
There is much in the President’s address that is worthy of consideration in today’s world, unfortunately those who would contemplate and affect those warnings into society are but a few small voices easily drowned out by those who would pursue personal gain at the cost of the country. We see this daily in the media, and in the public statements of our politicians, candidates for political office, and even the incumbent President, who is unable or unwilling to separate his desire for political conflict for the greater need of a government that serves the need of many versus the need of a political few.