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The Perfectly Imperfect Concept of America

Updated: Jul 3



We humans are funny. In many instances not laugh-out-loud funny, but just crazy funny. I feel that If there are aliens watching us now, their eyes (if they have them) are popping out at all times.


In many ways I am grateful to the founding fathers and mothers (interesting to note things are written as though women weren’t there), because but for their audacity to think a different thought and envision a new possibility, this country would not have come into existence. While it is clear that their vision of a preferable future did not include me, these kinds of dreams are usually bigger than the dreamer can even conceive.


At the time these humans were living and fighting for their survival, the concept of divide, conquer, sack, loot, rape, plunder, pillage, capture, and enslave was the status quo for the consciousness of the majority of people on the planet. These men who so boldly declared themselves free from the Kingdom of Great Britain, operated within the limited consciousness of their time. They didn’t really understand the full significance of everything they were saying. They were wrong about many things, yet there is room for gratitude.


The United States Declaration of Independence is a wonderful document in concept. It is one of those that holds a place in the annals of world history. Looking at just one sentence in the document there is much to be gleaned:


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.


These ideas were amazing for the time. This was big for humankind. These rebels were looking over at the monarchies and class systems of Europe and saying no to that. Yet, based on their understanding of the world at the time, what they seemingly meant was: 


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all [males who look like us, are property owners, and are of our social class] are created equal, that [these men] are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.


Their document was powerful, though flawed in its execution. The irony—the revolutionaries were done with the economic, social and religious limitations of Europe at the time; yet, their new concept included some of the same. Women are clearly excluded. Men who looked like them but didn’t own property were basically excluded. Clearly, the natives they found when they arrived were excluded. Certainly, the Africans they enslaved to help develop the country were excluded.


Amazingly, even though they wrote in their declaration that the rights were bestowed by the Creator, those rights were apparently meant for only one group. Furthermore, although they were aiming to create a system to escape the tyranny of Europe, their new system included a good dose of the same. It boggles the mind to think about people fighting for freedom from oppression, and then basically looking past other humans without even considering the same for them.


It is like the irony of the African-Americans who fought in the American Revolution alongside General Washington, and yet after the victory were not free themselves. What did they celebrate? After that war ended, how did the leaders look at a soldier of African descent, with a straight face, and send him back to slavery?


When these delegates of the Second Continental Congress began to write the United States Declaration of Independence, they didn’t realize it would be much bigger than themselves. The Universe always has plans that are bigger than us. The great empires of the world had all represented the state of consciousness of humankind during their times. The birth of America was the next level. The founding parents developed a concept, but clearly we are still growing into it. 


To be honest, for some Native Americans it can be difficult to see how to find good in this history. However, that would be a conversation for another day. Let’s just say there are many civilizations who were conquered by others, and those who survived had to figure out how to do so.


The bottom line for the ugliness we humans dish out on each other is that once it’s over, forgiveness has to enter as we turn a new page. While no one alive today was a part of all the ugly things that happened then, it is important not to pretend they didn’t happen. It is also important not to perpetuate the errors of the past. Redress does matter. The founding parents missed the mark in major ways, but there is nothing wrong with acknowledging their errors, while recognizing the good. Thank God for the birth of America—flaws and all.—Olivia S. Benson




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