Updated: Aug 5
Let me also address the title for a second. Yes, I am aware that there is a "ME" in America. Duh!
This article is an excerpt from my upcoming book "There is no "me" in America". Available soon everywhere books are sold. Want to get notified when the book is available? Click here.
Sí se puede! Yes, we can! And we surely must. We must fight to be heard! We must fight to be free! We must fight for democracy. For is it not freedom we all seek? Everyone around the globe wants to live in a democratic society these days - it seems. Or rather, some version of it.
It is almost as if a collective - post transatlantic slave trade, post World War 2 -global community looked at all the strange ideological...should I say "ideas"? that led the world to such dark places, and we said NOPE!
Nope to tyranny, nope to sexism, nope to communism, nope to racism, and all other y-s and isms the human race, at our worst, are able to cook up. We all desperately yearn to live in a world where all people are regarded as equals.
It fills my old, scared heart with joy to see all the young folks around the world these days fighting tirelessly for some of the most basic democratic rights that we take for granted here stateside:
Civil rights and liberties to the individual—like freedom of speech, press, and religion.
We want to live in communities where we - through our agreed-upon majority rule system- get to decide which rules and regulations we live by, and those who represent us at the highest levels of both local and federal government.
And we all fight every day to maintain certain inalienable rights guaranteed to each and everyone via the power of our constitution.
Love for one another is the only option
In all honesty, the United States was and still is the country to which most of the world looks to see what true democracy looks like. These words may seem like empty rhetoric. And believe me when I tell you that I am not the "America, fuck yeah!" type. Far from it.
I do, however, think that as much as we all love to, occasionally, join in on the seemingly incessant jeremiad about all that ails this great nation of ours, when it's all said and done, we got a pretty good thing going here.
In the midst of all the daily back and forth that we do so mindlessly on social media and via our various media outlets, I often wonder if folks realize that success in self-governance, requires that we cherish, love, and respect each other. Democracy is a relationship not unlike any other.
The perfect couple
Whether we like it or not, we are all in this together. This thing we call life. This thing we call a nation. In our neighborhoods, in our towns and cities, we are all we got. Whether we want to admit this or not, another’s cry for help quickly becomes ours when left unanswered.
Sure, we may fight from time to time. We may also, voice, passionately, our fundamental disagreement on this issue or that issue. At the end of the day, however, we must, in the name of democracy, peace, and all that we hold dear, move forward, and learn to love one another in spite of our differences.
We are like that old couple that has been together for as long as you can remember. Sure, from the outside looking in, it looks like they have the perfect relationship. Dig a little deeper and you will realize that just like you and your boo, they argue, fight, take timeouts, and so on. They love each other like crazy some days, and on other days, well, not so much.
What sets them apart from the rest of the couples you and I know is that they always find a way to move forward. That's who we are guys and gals. That is what America is: That old couple. Except in our case, there are many issues we seem to have swept under the rug. Issues that are now coming back to bite us in the you know what.
Lately, it seems like as a family, there is some s#it we need to work out. Conversations around some of these issues are not as easy as we all hoped they would be. We get uncomfortable and feel like the other is blaming us for stuff we feel we do not deserve blame for.
And these tough conversations tend to, more often than not, go off the rails. My intention in writing this book is not to lecture you about any specific set of topics. I am not here to tell you how to feel about this issue or that issue.
I don't feel like another person's reluctance to talk about, or address racial issues (head on) in any way shape or form makes them a racist or a sellout. I would just assume they don't give a crap or that there are far more pressing (personal) issues they feel needs to be addressed. And that's ok.
There are many "important" issues I don't care about either. And maybe that makes me a jerk to some - especially to those who care the most about whatever issue I have chosen to ignore. And that is ok too.
I would argue though that not caring about an issue doesn't make you a racist, sexist, homophobe, and so on. I feel the nomenclature of hate should be reserved for the truly deserving.
The truth is, I am a black man, and I don't like to talk about race. Not all the time! And certainly not with folks whose opinion of me (and those who look like me) matters very little to me.
In fact, if I am being honest, I don’t often bring up issues about race with my black friends either. Why? Well, conversations about race tend to bring the mood of the room down.
Far be it for me to suggest that we do not talk about these issues. I just ask that we dialog in love and understanding.
What's with the title?
I say all this to kind of give you a bit of a preview of some of the central themes I try to unpack in the chapters to come. Let me also address the title for a second. Yes, I am aware that there is a "ME" in America. Duh!
and two: I am trying to make the point that America, as a nation, is one comprised of a whole panoply of peoples with diverse and interesting backgrounds, points of view, and experiences.
I wholeheartedly feel we must all keep in mind that we share a nation with others.
Others who may have very different ideas, sense of morality, and regardless of which set of ideals we agree or disagree on, we must remember to treat each other with kindness, understanding, and respect.
So, the title is my silly attempt at a double entendre!