No one would deny that the United States established a significant historical milestone on Nov. 4. The question now presented to us as a nation and as a society is: How is this significant?
One answer is to place it into America’s historic time line:
232 years ago the Congress of the 13 colonies declared their independence from British rule, stating, in terms that we all know so well: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”
Then, 87 years later, with our living Constitution clearly at work, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, further defining these self-evident truths to apply to all the peoples of our still young nation. Within that frame of reference, the election of a son of a black Kenyan man and a white Kansan woman to the highest office in the land reverberates across our nation as a signal that the concept of a free and open society established by our forefathers not only remains strong, but is a vibrant workable premise that the rest of the world may see fit to imitate.
America, often portrayed as the “Shining Beacon of Freedom,” has been an example to the world at large, but until this moment in our history, the shadow of racial inequality has been a silent reminder that the words in our historic documents have failed to completely live up to their promise. On Nov. 4 we, as a nation, demonstrated that the words are more than just ideals, they reflect the heart of a people. Freedom extends to all in this noble experiment called Democracy, and the proof is here for the world to see.
Having the world note this remarkable milestone is especially significant. Troubled regions across the globe struggle with a common problem, and its roots are remarkably similar to our own history. To form nations and functioning societies out of disparate peoples, ethnicities, and cultures is a formidable task. From Sri Lanka to Sudan, from Kashmir to Iraq modern societies need to find ways to break down walls between groups of peoples that prevent them from providing for the common good. We have demonstrated to the world that our Constitution, as a framework for binding a nation together, is more than a great idea, it’s a success story of a pluralistic society; and as such it provides strength and purpose to all who strive for freedom.
On this 24-hour networked planet, any major event in America is responded to instantly around the globe. Tuesday’s elections were no exceptions. Demonstrations, both spontaneous and organized, erupted in places distant both geographically and culturally. All in response to an act by the American people. One thing, conspicuous in its absence, marked each of these demonstrations. Not a single one of these emotional gatherings featured an American flag engulfed in flames. And that is perhaps most significant of all.
Adam and Sonya Berg