By Saje Williams
When I was young I asked what America was and I was told it was a nation that extended from the Pacific to the Atlantic, from the border of Mexico to the border of Canada. It was a land that was wrested from Britain during the Revolutionary War, and purchased, stolen, and won from others as those who called themselves Americans spread across its width and breadth.
As I grew older I learned that America was not only a place, but an idea, and that idea was one of freedom and justice. In the early days some men were slaves and some were free, but the notion was that maybe, someday, all men could be free. Once the women were like the property of their husbands, fathers, or brothers, but maybe, someday, they could stand and claim to belong to themselves.
It was a bright lady that stood in a harbor, a torch held aloft, saying "Send me your tired, your hungry, your poor. Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."
It was a place where men stood and fought and died to make the dream of liberty a reality rather than just a dream. It was a nation that sent its young men abroad so that others might realize that dream as well.
In its darkest times, a tiny light flickered in the blackness, a light that whispered to all the world, "let me be your beacon against the flame of tyranny and oppression and remember that what is ours could be yours as well, if only you wish it and are willing to make it so."
America's greatest power is not in its force of arms, or its economic strength, but in what it has represented to the rest of the world. We have strode forth to do battle with tyrants and madmen, and brought to other lands not only our gifts of chocolate and Coca-Cola, but a belief that America stood for the underdog, the disadvantaged, and those ground underfoot by greater powers than themselves.
For the past several years I have been crying out, wondering where THAT America had gone. The America that stood at the forefront of history, its flag waving proudly as the rest of the world cheered us for our honor, dignity, and compassion.
But that America had been sleeping, or addled by the blow cast against it on the day of infamy that brought terror to its shores. In her anger she lashed out, striking in blind fury not at those who'd done it, but at any who tried to calm her fury.
Then, driven mad by grief and rage, betrayed by her leaders and those who claimed to be the 'voice of its people,' America took one long stride across the ocean and sent a petty tyrant tumbling from his throne.
This was not enough, though. America reached down and took that land in her hands, and squeezed as its people cried out in fear and agony.
She placed her children in that land, and made of them oppressors, just like those she'd once fought so proudly to topple. Her children killed, and tortured, and maimed, and grew to be despised.
The once-great lady became tarnished, and those who had once loved her cried out at what she'd become.
But those of us that still believe in America still have hope that the evil that has infected her can be exorcised. Because, beneath all the scars and stains that mar the surface of what she once was, there lies a heart as pure and good as it ever was.
America--a land not only of people, mountains, lakes, rivers, plains, forests, and desert, but of hope, and a promise of something the world never knew until she was born.
Justice. Liberty. Equality.
The ideals of America will not die unless we let them. We are her children, and we believe in what she represents.
If we don't, no one else ever will again.
Resurrect the dream. Restore the lady. And, this time, bring her closer to the dream that never quite came to pass.
It's within our power.
We're Americans. We've done the impossible before. We can do it again.
Posted in fuill with author's permission.
Originally posted at democraticunderground.com: http://tinyurl.com/2tugxx