By Jim Dodds
To Amy Smith, Mary Laulis and anyone else who’s mad at me.
Well, what can we do about this situation? Do you like living in a country that’s so divided? I don’t, but when I see Donald Trump and the Republicans doing everything they can to take back all the gains we’ve made in recent years as Americans I get emotional. And scared.
The Founding Fathers (and the women behind them) made a large point of separating church and state and the form of government they invented was an almost miraculous tool to destroy oppression. But they wielded it in very uneven ways. They supported slavery, they ignored women, they backed out of treaties they made with the people who by all rights owned the land they wanted, and they looked the other way as genocide was practiced.
But things changed. First the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution and then the rule of law was slowly extended to protect more minorities, to end slavery, to extend the franchise to women, to protect workers from being slaughtered when they protested inhuman conditions and demanded a livable wage, gradually putting up more and more pillars to strengthen the roof that we all shelter under. A lot of different kinds of pillars, with different strengths, a strong element of good design.
We’ve extended protections to same-sex marriage and to trans citizens and to people whose parents brought them to this country when they were too young to make a choice themselves, and we’re getting over the blinkered idea that the god that Muslims worship is different from the one that Christians – and Jews – revere. We want women to have the right to say no, at any time, for any reason, to decide whether a pregnancy is right for them, to be able to speak up when the good old boys abuse their privilege without reprisal and to get equal pay for equal work.
We live in a world now where more animal species go extinct every day and the average temperature inches toward catastrophe. The current administration denies all of this and wants to burn more coal and drill more oil wells, and takes away the support that clean energy needs. The president doesn’t understand that he’s not the CEO of America, Inc. I sincerely believe that the world portrayed in the prophetic novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” is exactly the world many of the arch-conservatives that hide in his shadow want to drag us back into. It’s not a fantasy but a chilling prophecy. I hope there can be more civil dialogue and real compromise that extends the American Dream, rather than excluding people from it, as we go forward.
Dodds lives in Waitsfield.