AMERICA, YESTERDAY TODAY AND TOMORROW
I love America; its soil and its spirit have given me birth, it empowers and illuminates me and has given me many, many wonderful years of life. I am shocked when I hear beautiful, young people who, to the best of my knowledge, have received the same or better gifts from being Americans than I have and now flatly condemn America as an ill-conceived, irredeemable, racist nation; a nation founded by people who were totally self-involved, narcissistic, bad to the core individuals who have begotten a shameful country.
I’ve been turning these questions over and over in my mind but I have not had the opportunity to have a good respectful discussion with anyone who unabashedly holds these beliefs.
If I get the chance to talk to a person who forthrightly believes America is bad because of how it was founded and nurtured into being, I would like to ask them if they have condemned their parents for their youthful sins, their brother and sisters for some awful things they might have done when they were teenagers or young adults. I would want to know if they were still secretly condemning their husbands or wives or friends who had not lived up to their golden standard. I would want to know if they could ever forgive a homeless person who may be committing ugly sins today out of being in complete spiritual poverty.
In my AA program of recovery from alcoholism, other than the arduous process of forgiving myself for having fallen so low, (a process I’m still working on) forgiving my parents has been the next hardest thing to do. One of the most powerful assignments I ever did to help me forgive my father for all his violence against me when I was a child was to write his life story from his point of view, not my point of view, but his. I had to put myself in his shoes. It was mind and spirit wrenching, an amazing eye-opener. My father was a very spiritually unhealthy man before mellowing with age and writing out his attitudes and behaviors clearly explained him for me; explained that he was not a bad person but a person of his time and circumstances.
In my alcoholic illness and recovery, I came to see that my parents had done the very best they could do in their life circumstances and conditions and they encouraged me to never stop digging and I’ve been able to rise up to a healthy place where I am enjoying a very rich, productive life.
I have learned that we cannot morally judge the people who have gone before us if it’s our parents or people from 250 years ago who founded America. We are not supposed to be judges at all but who’s going to follow some “old quaint Christian” wisdom like that when they’re trying to make themselves feel better, self-righteous, and holy.