Remembering our founding ideals

By |2006-07-06T09:00:00-04:00July 6th, 2006|Uncategorized|

First of all, happy belated 4th of July from Between The Lines! We at BTL hope your weekend was relaxing, rejuvenating and full of pride in both our community and our country.
Yes, it can be hard sometimes to be proud to be an American. There are many reasons for this, from increased government surveillance of our private lives to the torture of our captured enemies to ongoing discrimination against women, people of color and, of course, the LGBT community.
While it would be a mistake to bury these very real discrepancies between our ideals and reality under a patriotic rug, let’s remember that it is those ideals that we can be proud of in the first place.
For all of its flaws, America is the first country in history to be founded on the idea that human beings were created equally, that people have the right to choose their government, and that that government has to abide by certain laws. Yes, the document says, “all men are created equal,” and they meant, very specifically, straight white men. But it’s also true that the U.S. Constitution recognized the civil rights of more individuals than any other country of the world at that time; and the first ten amendments to the constitution expanded those rights. In fact, the United States was the first country ever created by an act of its citizens.
That’s quite an accomplishment. And, since our founding, our country has struggled to act out of the best of human nature rather than the worst and has frequently succeeded – as evidenced by the continuing success of the civil rights movements for women, people of color and LGBTs.
So while we rightfully bemoan the acts of a federal administration that seem to fly in the face of what it’s supposed to mean to be American, we need to remember that our country has survived bad presidents in the past. We have survived a war to win our independence, a war to keep us united, slavery, two World Wars, and the scars wrought by Jim Crow laws, the suppression of the Suffragette movement, two Red scares, and a worldwide Depression. In the midst of all that, rather than descend into dictatorship we have recognized the civil rights of increasing numbers of our people and seen women and minorities, including members of the LGBT community, increasingly ascend to places of power and influence.
It is easy to feel despondent in the face of all that seems wrong with our country. But we also have reason to hope that America will survive George W. Bush, Focus on the Family and discriminatory laws in the areas of marriage, adoption and employment. And while America is far from perfect, the fact that so many of us continue to push for nothing short of full realization of our country’s founding ideals is a source of real inspiration to us all.
So, happy belated 4th of July. Let’s hope that, next year, we will have even more to feel proud of our country for.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.