he original poem was written in 1960 and proved remarkably prescient of the .events to follow in the eventful 1960;s. It was the basis for this poem which was written in 2012, at the height if the Obama era, and has proven predictive of events up to the current civil unrest. It expresses, I think, the challenges we face today when our very freedom is stake.
The hallmark of America’s genius since July 4, 1776 has been our ability to conceive and follow as our guiding star, our God-given right “to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” A major component of this ideal is “equal justice under the law”, which has seen a long, slow, and costly struggle, including a war which cost more American casualties than all the other wars combined. And we have come a long way since 1776. But not far enough.
Some of our fellow Americans have become impatient — and rightfully so — with the fact that this goal has not yet been achieved. Unfortunately, in their impatience, they have attacked the wrong target. Equality before the law does not require the suspension of the law or even of enforcement of the law. It means better laws, better standards and practices of the police, better judges, and better judgement on the part of each of us.
Racism in the sense of preference for our own kind may be an unfortunate characteristic of the human condition, but it must never be allowed to cloud our judgement of right and wrong. On the contrary, we must fight against it, as in the parable of the Good Samaritan. We can strive continuously and sincerely to expand our sense of “our own kind” to include all Americans, and the Christian ideal of “all humankind”.
The history of the past three centuries has proven America more successful than any other civilization ever “so conceived and so dedicated”. We cannot, we must not, give up now! Those who threaten our way of life must be overcome at all costs! We have to endure our shortcomings as we seek to eliminate them. Our individual freedom is a requirement to achieve these lofty goals, but they will never be achieved by mob rule.
As Americans we must be true to our heritage. It is our only hope for the advancement of human rights. America is still the shining city on the hill and a beacon of light to the world, but only if we continue to protect it.