I am an American whose patriotic journey has brought me to a dark place. As most white Americans of my generation I was taught ours was the greatest nation in the world. We were home of the free, land of the brave, and every day before class we proudly stood, hand over heart, and said the Pledge of Allegiance before the stars and stripes.
I remember being taught the story of Betsy Ross in elementary school and later playing Betsy Ross with one of my girlfriends from Blue Birds. I was much older before I learned most of the story was a myth. Each year we had Thanksgiving plays at school, only to later learn that the stories of a Pilgrim feast with the Native Americans was as accurate as the one about Betsy Ross.
During the turbulence of the sixties and early seventies, I questioned our government, disagreed with the War in Vietnam, and closely followed the Watergate trials. It wasn’t until the summer Olympics came to California in 1984 that I experienced a renewed sense of patriotism and was proud to call myself an American.
I felt strongly about the importance of the United States Constitution, especially the First Amendment, guaranteeing us the right to peacefully protest, free speech, and separation of church and state. I applauded the three branches of government, naively believing that would ensure our continued freedom.
I celebrated the words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, 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.”
But how did I justify my pride of a country built on the institution of slavery? A country that practiced genocide on its native people?
I never thought our country was perfect. When studying slavery in high school, I sympathized with Nat Turner. I personally witnessed the scars left on the Native Americans today, because of our historical treatment of them.
Yet, as an amateur genealogist I understood the history of man has not been kind. It’s not an excuse, it’s a statement of fact. But I felt our country was a work in progress, and I had faith it was moving forward, trying to create a better world. I believed the strength of our Constitution would help us do that.
During my genealogy pursuits I dug deeper into our family tree, finding ancestors that brought me both pride and shame. I gathered the necessary historical documentation and was accepted into the Daughters of the American Revolution. That was a year or so before the pandemic, so my participation with the DAR in Arizona was brief, as meetings stopped due to sheltering in place, and then we moved to Oregon. Yet my time with the DAR I found rewarding.
The SCOTUS recent ruling overturning Roe V Wade has stripped half of its citizens of rights they held for half a century, forcing women to risk their lives, health, finances & dreams to turn an unwanted embryo into a baby. Or in some cases, allowed to die because of an embryo they wanted was no longer viable and was killing them. We are no longer moving forward; we are going backward.
We currently have a Supreme Court dominated by conservative justices, which means they take an originalist interpretation of the Constitution. What does that really mean? The website constitutioncenter.org describes it this way:
Originalism is a theory of the interpretation of legal texts, including the text of the Constitution. Originalists believe that the constitutional text ought to be given the original public meaning that it would have had at the time that it became law.
Considering black people were slaves and couldn’t vote, and women couldn’t vote at the time the Constitution was written, I don’t think taking an originalism interpretation is going forward. We just stepped back in time. If you want to see how far back in time we stepped, you can read this.
Over on twitter, a guy who proudly claims to be a supporter of the 2nd Amendment—which I assume means he doesn’t want the government regulating his guns, chastised me for opposing the ruling, thinking nothing wrong with telling a woman how she must use her body, yet vehemently opposed to the government interfering with his gun ownership.
I know some of my Christian readers will adamantly disagree with me. Some may even decide never to read one of my books again. I just wish they would understand that just because THEY see an embryo as a baby, it does not make it so. It seems the Jewish and Muslim faiths take a much more liberal view over the rights of a woman to control her body in regard to abortion. By their laws regarding abortion, it’s obvious in this instance they value a woman’s life far more than some Christian faiths.
Yet the bottom line, I don’t believe ANY religion should dictate the laws in this country. I believe you have the right to follow the laws of your church, but you don’t have the right to force your church’s laws on others. I just wish the Supreme Court felt the same way.