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Aaron Bohrod's America, its history (1946)

"We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice. "
–Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,
“Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution.”
Speech given at the National Cathedral,
March 31, 1968

" … thinking ourselves especially blessed."

The history of these United States records a definite Arcing trajectory. We do not do straight lines. Neither did our forebears. We sidle up to our futures and tend to wend away from our results. We move like drunken sailors inexorably toward our salvation, and we, probably above everything, firmly believe in our eventual salvation. Any half-baked efficiency expert could demonstrate the obvious errors in our ways, in our methods, but we seem unteachable, uninterested in straightforward pathways. We're so damned busy meandering that we can only ever see trees, rarely forest. We disagree about almost everything yet insist that we're somehow united, one nation under our multitudinous God, with aspiration enough for all. Liberty and justice might seem to be trailing ever further behind, but that's just an illusion, the result of our Arcing course, making it damnably difficult to precisely pinpoint our position on our path toward our sure salvation.

Democracy amounts to the ultimate faith-based initiative.
Curiously, the most religiously faithful often hold the least faith in it. Conservatives, by which I mean those who firmly believe the future lies behind us, prefer more predictability than any future could bring, so they push and shove, attempting to at least nudge us back into the Stone Age, the so-called Good Old Days. Those days might or might not have been good in and of themselves, though I'm confident they eventually became familiar. We tend to like what we know, and nobody knows their future for sure, though we sure do all seem to know our past. We forget, though, our past's prominent imperfections. We fondly recall what we fondly remember regardless of what anyone actually experienced. Our memories might be the most faulty of all of our facilities. We remain on a one-way road heading forward, albeit in an Arcing fashion.

We progress almost exclusively via regression. We attempt to head backward and inadvertently stumble forward. We try to turn sideways only to discover later that sideways took us forward, too. Our backsliding, which seems almost never-ending, also advances our position, for whatever we do, we might be learning. What was gospel last year might seem heretical this Spring and unthinkable by this time next year, and almost none of us will remember the conviction with which we held our greatest delusions. Our history remains replete with fondly forgotten memories, and we scrupulously maintain our mythical status. A City On A Hill. The Last Indispensable. America, The Beautiful. God Shed His Grace On
Me, Goddamn it!

Our Supreme Court stands neither above nor below the average American, who is and always was far above average. They stray away from The Founders' intentions, most often when they engage in mindreading those Founders' intentions. They sometimes fancy themselves social engineers. Supreme Court Justices make lousy social engineers if our history has conclusively proven anything. They tend to become elites if only due to their unnatural tenure, for they hold the only monarchial job descriptions in the state, till death do their vitaes persist, sometimes longer. They might be excused for misunderstanding the experiment and their occasional lapses in attention. They're ancient. They hold the straightedge incapable of charting anything like a realistic Arc. They impose when they might intervene. They expose their prejudices with every ruling. They disappoint The People because they only need to be popular during their Senate confirmation hearing. After that, they're unconstrained.

This country, which I only begrudgingly admit might be of me, hardly seems worthy of my support some days. Those times when the justice Dr. King predicted seems lost in space within a questionably moral universe. Some days this experiment seems perverse, especially when unfeeling judges invoke harsh judgment against innocent people for indecipherable reasons. Meanness and vengeance also remain prominent elements of this sometimes grand experiment. The Arcing path makes it impossible to determine if we're closer today or further away. Our judgments have fooled us in the past. For every Dred Scott decision, at least a hundred more amenable to humans have prevailed. We make huge mistakes sometimes and might one day permanently undermine our franchise in foolishness and stupidity. I pray that the arc of the moral universe is long, longer than the straight-edged ethical lapses we too often fall backward upon. Arcing seems like just so much Honing this morning. We're whittling away at Democracy while thinking ourselves especially blessed. Heaven (or someone) help us!

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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