This is our America

You will know glory but your teeth may get kicked in along the way

Jeannette Chiappone, Staff Member

There’s nothing like being slammed to the hard, cold, bullshit-covered earth by an angry, bucking 1,600 pound beast of snarling testosterone and muscle. That may be how you feel right now if you voted in your first presidential election and, like half the voters in the country, woke up to a shock. And that’s why the phrase “first rodeo” makes more sense when your head is split open and you’re crawling through the muck for a way out.

Dust yourself off and get some ice on those bruises, my friend. Take a break from the intensity of the moment, the fear of what may come, the grief over what might have been. Step back and know: this will not be your last rodeo. Many have come before and, God willing, many more lie ahead.

And this is our America.

While it may seem our institutions are crumbling or have failed us, that our democracy is in peril and a Ku Klux Klan-hooded nightmare threatens to destroy our nation, this is our America.

Step back and look behind you, at the ones who have brought you to this moment: the Martin Luther King, Jrs.,  the men who hit the beaches of France in World War II, the Susan B. Anthonys and Harriet Tubmans, the Nat Turners and Abraham Lincolns, the Thomas Jeffersons and the patriots of the American Revolution. You are standing on mighty shoulders, my friend. And this is our America.

Every step forward in this Great Experiment has been marked with the pain of being birthed: blood, fear, tension, uncertainty and a destiny that will not, that cannot be averted. This is our America.

Every 80 years or so, we, the people, go through a period so cataclysmic, it changes the trajectory for all of human history.

Eighty years ago, the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl threatened our nation with starvation, fascists in Europe killed innocent millions, our world was in peril of being devoured by monsters. We rose: housewives built ships and airplanes, average Joes fought battles with courage beyond our ability to imagine, and together with those from others countries, our world was saved. This is our America.

Eighty years before that, the rumblings of the Civil War began which led to more American deaths than all the coming wars put together. Those soldiers met across battlefields, brothers facing brothers, fathers facing sons. The soil of our nation became a red and sticky mud of bloody sacrifice. The Union threatened to be torn in two but endured, and the unconscionable horror of slavery of hundreds of thousands of Africa-Americans was ripped from the fabric of our country. This is our America.

And 80 years before that, a crazy, bold and daring  idea was born: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. A revolution rose up among the most ordinary of folks, in the secret of night, in homes and taverns across a smattering of colonies. That rag-tag army of farmers and blacksmiths beat down the greatest military power on Earth and our tender nation was born. This is our America.

So, today, we stand at the cross-roads of one of these defining moments that circle around every 80 years or so. The contours of our struggle are beginning to be fleshed out. The lines are becoming clearly drawn. The survival of the planet is in the balance. The details written in history books in generations to come have yet to be played out. But there’s no question about it. It is happening. This is our America.

The baton has been passed. It’s your turn now. Let your fear tremble for you are but human. Let the immensity of the challenge overwhelm you but know you are not alone.

And then stand up. Your destiny has yet to be determined, but of your greatness, there is no doubt.

This is your America.

And baby, this ain’t our last rodeo.