KAMLOOPS — Dear America:
Do you remember, as I do, how we use to see each other on a regular basis? We had such great times and always left knowing it wouldn’t be long before we saw each other again.
But I’ve noticed a change. We don’t see each other that often anymore and the last few times we met, it was different, almost awkward. Nothing obvious to begin with but I started sensing it wasn’t the same. Normally so positive and ready to set the world on fire with your unbridled enthusiasm and can-do attitude, you began to look at yourself and others differently.
For the first time ever, I saw that always-optimistic glimmer of hope you had for everything and everybody, gradually evolve into suspicion, maybe even fear. It was a new and growing wariness and mistrust, not just of outsiders but from within as well.
I miss those eyes that once sparkled with anticipation. I remember how you could once dream of great things, like travelling to the moon, and turn it into reality. You use to say, “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country”. It was that quintessential American character that built your country and it seems to be slipping away.
Remember how you once welcomed everyone? How your Statue of Liberty greeted newcomers as they arrived by boat from every corner of the planet and every country of the world. You were the land of the free and the home of the brave.
You and I use to brag that we had the largest undefended border in the world and how the relationship between the two of us was so special. Damn we were good weren’t we? A perfect pair and the world knew and admired that we could work so well together.
We played together, argued on occasion, because we didn’t always agree, but if one of us was challenged, we would stand united. We even fought beside each other through two world wars and sadly and at times, we died together. Such strong memories but you’ve changed and I have to admit the change does not suit you well
I and your other friends have watched these changes build up over time and it is difficult to see such a good friend stumble. It’s like you know these things are happening to you but with your loss of spirit has come a lethargy and malaise that has darkened your mood and stolen your will.
Even your bold, proud name is failing you. You began as the “United” States of America, the ‘land of the free’ but have allowed divisiveness to erode our once shared confidence and common purpose. You are allowing open and free discussion and healthy debate, something you once called democracy and freedom, to deteriorate to the point of a distrust that now borders on open hostility.
I so admired your ability to once defend and champion freedom of religion and speech. You challenged racial discrimination, suffering through some terrible times as a result but like everything you took on, you survived and grew. You were so beautiful in those days, irresistible, confident and boldly determined to do what you could to make the world a better place. Sure, you weren’t perfect but your heart seemed to be in the right place.
But what happened and when did your natural love for freedom begin this decline? You started to fear other religions and races, even going to war with those who didn’t share in your beliefs.
Your cherished faith in the value of freedom of speech is now under attack and not by outsiders but by you. You along with your many friends fought so hard for these freedoms. In fact, for many it is why your ancestors first came to you. They were refugees, persecuted for the beliefs they held, so they came to America, to you my friend, to established a new world founded on the concept of freedom of choice.
And now I see the once light of my life agreeing to the need to round up, detain and deport those not of your faith or colour. The excuses are the same heard in Germany during the 1930’s, “They are stealing our jobs” or, “They are criminals responsible for the crime in our cities”.
When do those implementing these plans come face to face with the numbing Nuremburg reality of the worst imaginable quote ever? “I was only following orders.” Deportation and willingness to torture is a path you must not follow.
Remember, our blood was spilled in world wars so that others could regain the same freedoms you and I enjoyed? We sacrificed our lives for that future by defeating a tyranny founded upon fear and hate. We went after those who would kill innocents and murder millions simply because of their religion.
But now my dear friend you toy with the idea and willingness to commit the wrongs you once fought so hard to abolish.
You think the world is different now and that it is naive to not recognize that times have changed. But times always change and we’ve seen it again and again. What I haven’t seen before though is your growing despair.
America, you’re a good friend and I hate to see you stricken by this hate and fear.
Note to readers: Over the next four to six weeks, I will be stepping away from the keyboard but will be back sometime in March. I’ve got a new Twitter feed set up at @bafflegabbed and over the next few weeks, will periodically be posting and sharing comments there, so hope you’ll give me a follow.
See you back here in March!