America is a sandcastle on the beach and the tide is coming in. Its vision was enlightened but its foundation is flawed. It’s rare that we creatures create something beyond our knowledge or experience. Those feats are reserved for prophetic visionaries, of which there are few, and rarer still when a group of egotistical intellectuals put their heads together to create a new nation.
What they imagined was born out of the societal system that they and their ancestors long before had built to control and maintain their privileged existence. Feudalism, a political and economic system of power and authority based on landholding, loyalty and protective alliances that dominated Europe following the disintegration of Charlemagne’s kingdom. It takes little imagination to see its reflection in the very documents that formed the footing of this nation. To this day, those who do not own property (or any tangible resource such as savings or just a home) are at the mercy of those who do.
They came to this land in search of wealth and in their baggage was packed the same ills and seeds of discontent that had troubled their places of origin. They came blessed by the Pope in the shroud of the Doctrine of Discovery to subdue the land and its inhabitants to establish the only system they knew. Along with them came the peasant class of that same system with dreams of improving their station. And when there weren’t enough of these immigrants, they resorted to kidnapping peoples from other lands as the chosen remedy.
I have often said we create what we fear. They had created a slow simmering stew in a pot of ideals that was far too small for the human desire to live free. American history is brimming with the proof of this. From the wars against the indigenous peoples, over 200 slave revolts, Bacon’s Rebellion to today’s calls to “tax the rich.”
The tide is coming in. How far it will reach will depend on if we learn from history. To do that, we have to stop burying it.