Saturday, July 4, 2020

Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal

~~ The Declaration of Independence

Last night, like so many others, we watched the movie of “Hamilton” on Disney+. We had seen the Chicago production of it a while back and loved it, but seeing the original Broadway cast perform it was mind-blowing. The acting, the music, even the lighting, were just spectacular. It was fun to see friends who had never seen it experience it and realize how incredibly good it is. 

If I were a history teacher, I’d do everything in my power to get my kids to see this. Not only does it teach history, it teaches it in a modern way, bringing those original ideas into the present and helping people understand what a remarkable experiment our country is. 

While we watched the movie, the “president” was having a photo op at Mount Rushmore and talking about the “leftist mobs” in the country. His comments were divisive as well as dismissive of the suffering happening in our country right now. Thousands of people are getting sick and dying every day, and he chose to stoke racial and partisan anger, as well as endangering all those who attended. This so-called president might want to ignore the coronavirus, but it is not ignoring people. It struck me as a terrible message to deliver on a day that means a lot to our “grand experiment.” 

Those of us bearing witness right now will tell this “president’s” story. And it will not be kind. 

It also struck me that those who founded our country would be particularly appalled by such a demagogue. They did what they could to prevent someone like him from gaining power, but they were far from infallible. They were imperfect in many ways, but they did have a visionary view of what our country could be. We obviously haven’t achieved that yet, but we are a work in progress. We work towards a more perfect union. 

On this day, we should resolve to defeat not just this “president” in November, but to defeat this toxic form of nationalism. We know we can do better, and we must. 

Happy Birthday, America. You’re having a really weird mid-life crisis, but I’m going to hold out hope that you will learn from this and strive for better. I still believe in you. I need you to believe in yourself, the way Alexander Hamilton and others did.