stock We the People

Anything is possible.

That’s what they believed when they created this country.

They believed bigger than what was right in front of them and all around them.

Then they sat down and wrote a Constitution that still endures, one whose preamble starts with these words, “We the People.”

We.

I just love that word.

We.

We is so much bigger than you, than me, than each one of us who fret over small lives ruled by me, my and I.

We.

On Jan. 6, domestic terrorists stormed the U.S. Capitol to stop the certification of an election that had the highest turnout in the history of the country. The angry mob that killed a police officer tried to stop Congress from certifying the victory of Joe Biden. Democracy and everything this country stands for was on the line.

They tried to silence “We the People.”

They couldn’t. Democracy held strong.

And now We the People are ready for a new, stronger, better, “we.”

A “we” that includes so many that have been waiting for us to recognize them in the “we” that is America.

There are so many things to celebrate right now, and we’re allowed to celebrate, even as we grieve the endless deaths from COVID-19, even as we rage against the insurrectionists, even as we worry about what happens next. We are still allowed to celebrate.

There is so much to celebrate.

Biden might just be the kindest man ever elected president. He leads with a rare empathy and compassion that are his superpower, not his kryptonite.

America welcomes its first woman vice president. A Black woman. An Indian woman. Married to a Jewish husband. I’m giddy.

That’s my America. It’s your America. It’s our America.

There is much to celebrate. Georgia elected the first Black Democratic senator from the South, the Rev. Raphael Warnock. Georgia elected Jon Ossoff, its first Jewish senator and the first Jewish senator from the South since the 1880s.

White America is gone.

It was always an illusion. Native Americans were here first. They discovered this country. Then the Black people we kidnapped and tortured built this country and held its economy together.

What happened on Jan. 6 only fortifies me. All those white supremacists who love that Confederate flag marched through the Capitol? They can empower us to celebrate a cabinet and list of adviser nominees that reflect We the People. A list that includes:

A Black secretary of defense. A Native American secretary of the interior. A gay man as secretary of transportation. A Latino man as secretary of education. An Asian-American U.S. trade representative. A Latino secretary of health and human services. A Black man in charge of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A Latino secretary of Homeland Security. A woman director of national intelligence. A Black woman chair of the council of economic advisers.

People who look like America. People who are America.

We are not rid of those who want to destroy democracy in the name of democracy. They want a white democracy, a white America that doesn’t have room for people of color, for Jews, for Muslims, for gay people, for immigrants, for women who think women should be able to make their own choices.

There are Americans who still wax poetic over the glory days of the 1950s and long for the way America used to be. They would prefer the Jim Crow era because they think they benefited from it.

But even they lost out when they silenced and crushed all those bold and brilliant Black voices, thinkers, inventors, scientists and leaders who could have and should have made their mark on America.

It is time to grow up, people. It’s time to grow into our We.

Some of my liberal friends grow weary of my idealism. It bothers them when I say, “We are better than this.” No, we aren’t they tell me. They tell me America isn’t better than this, that America is made up of racists and anti-Semites and women haters and gay bashers. They remind me that nearly half of the country wanted four more years of the hate and voted for more of it. They tell me America is a racist country that feeds the greed of white people who want more power and toys and control. This is who we are, they say.

I tell them evolution takes time. We move from fins to four legs to two. Some adapt faster than others. As writer Anne Lamott reminds me, “A hundred years from now? All new people.”

We’re getting there.

But, I truly believe that each one of those haters, every single one of them, is better than what they have demonstrated these last four years.

Even they have access to their better angels, as Abraham Lincoln said. Even they, at their core, are better than this. In their heart of hearts, they know better.

I believe we are better than this, not because we’re Americans, but because we are human beings with hearts and souls who whisper the truth, who know the truth – the kind that never changes, the kind that truly sets a person, and a nation, free.


Connect with Regina Brett on Facebook at ReginaBrettFans. Listen to “Little Detours” with Regina Brett at reginabrett.com or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.

Disclaimer

Letters, commentaries and opinions appearing in the Cleveland Jewish News do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company, its board, officers or staff.

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