Without freedom we have no choices! Tyranny comes in many formsRead More...
”To err is human…” – Alexander Pope
Being human takes a lot of thought. We humans don’t know this until life embarks on its discontented journey…We each have our own road, and if we are thoughtful enough, we use our free will to make some good choices. These thought skills take time and practice to perfect.
Freedom enables the best use of our free will. Even if we take for granted this freedom, our free will aught to be used with ample discretion. But humans rarely understand the many boundaries that exist within life’s framework to use discretion properly which is why communities of humans have rules.
When a human breaks the smallest of community rules there is need for justice. How many of us will honestly apply this standard on a daily basis, be thoughtful about it, and understand the burden of repairing each rule we break with humility? Probably quite a few of us practice it regularly. Yet we cannot assume that everyone will. As Alexander Pope once said, “To err is human…”
Rules usually apply in family, workplace, and organized group situations. We get good practice in these settings. Penalties for rule breaking are meant to cause brief shame. Our chance for redemption is pretty high if a sincere apology is accepted and we correct ourselves through active example. Shame becomes respect in this way.
Laws, however, are much more strict. This is necessary in the broader context of human interaction because we gave up tribalism long ago…Systems of governance are used between and among towns, counties, states and nations so that all people can move about and interact peacefully. The development of laws takes time and practice, and thoughtful governments try to improve upon their implementation continually which is the basis of justice.
Currently I see many people turning to tribalism to obtain “justice”. Law and order has been eroding which undermines any form of peaceful process toward desired justice. Dignity must be bestowed upon all humans no matter their race, religion, gender, sexual preference and even job choice. Harm directed at one of us is harm to all of us. Over the past centuries humans have already done too much harm to each other in the name of justice when in actuality the ulterior motives were more or less “spiteful revenge”. Where does this spiteful revenge come from? I believe that political forces cause us to lose sight of our human capacity to be our best selves.
In our goal to seek proper justice we must use empathy and humility. Peaceful protest in the public common is a fine start, but leadership must be identified and goals must be adopted. Positive change is a result of carefully measured action steps through our democratic process, otherwise we can fall prey to tribes using vengeful tactics.
Realize this though, political leadership quite often enjoys the use of oppression and injustice through political constructivism. If your intuition suspects that your government is not working for you or your community’s best interest, you have the power to change things! It is not your government’s responsibility to make change because if it was then we would always be waiting for change…Sound familiar?
What have politicians or other people in positions of power (this can include church figures too) constructed for you? Emotional and tribal barriers are burdensome to the soul. When a politician says that they can “change the soul” of your community, watch out! That is a political construct using their will to manipulate your free will…It crushes souls and demeans the spirit. Laws are then changed to suit their purpose of power over you. They will push examples of social, gender, and racial constructs to justify their use of power to take away freedoms.
What burden does you soul and spirit carry within you? Does it reflect the barriers that exist outside of you? You are responsible for discovering the truth that sets you free…Do not delegate it to a tribe or a politician. Forgive yourself for not understanding this before, and move forward in your life in humble purpose that includes all your acquaintances. Your light will reflect onto them and harmony with each other will be achieved.
“To err is human, to forgive is Devine.” – Alexander Pope
Wicked, adjective – evil or morally wrong; intended to or capable of harming someone or something (Google dictionary)
Do you really want to know why certain people seem to be melting down over perceived differences as a nation?
I watch all news channels, listen to podcasts and radio programs from various sources, and read news clips and books from all authors on both sides of an issue. I like doing this because my questioning takes on a much deeper meaning…not everyone is right and not everyone is wrong, and, in point of fact, much material can seem to be simply glossed over or blatantly left out.
I’ve been following the chaos that has been developing since before the 2017 general election. I try to make sure that my research and sources have a very broad scope because I like to keep in mind my friends, family and acquaintances who are all very different people with diverse thoughts, ethnicities and group affiliations. I feel blessed to have come from a type of background which placed me in diverse situations when I was growing up because not everyone gets to see and experience what our large, complex, multi-ethnic, culturally diverse country has to offer, and, quite frankly, it is not until you are past the age of 50 can you appreciate the exposure.
“Wickedness was like food: once you got started it was hard to stop; the gut expanded to take in more and more.” – John Updike, The Witches of Eastwick
I believe the “wicked food” Updike is referring to is connected our egos as individuals. Lately we have been digesting this food at an alarming rate. We must make an effort to look outside ourselves and take smaller bites, chew the information a few more times and rinse it down with a heavy dose of calm reason. It is our ability to reason that will connect our mind to our heart and drive a wedge between wickedness and our ego.
Consider the wickedness of the Socialist/Marxist movement that’s been brewing. It does not believe in the individual’s capacity to succeed in a free market system, yet this movement does believe that a small group of elites have the capacity to tell each person what they can do, think, and be…
The harmful wickedness fed to people of all races by an elite few in America today is unquestionable. I present to you a few examples:
1) The rewriting of history (As in the 1916 Project) instead of adding more information that is fact based to improve upon its richness.
2) The removal of historic statues and plaques by force without considering their context and significance for a teachable moment.
3) Banning certain types of free speech no matter who might be either offended or positively inspired.
4) Condoning mob rule when such behavior infringes on the rights of others.
5) Reworking social interactions in order to remove the possibility of proper civil discourse.
6) Changing the meaning of words to abuse cultural norms instead of creating new words that might reflect better our human progression.
7) Segregating differences as a way to cause chaos instead of promoting our human capacity to allow for differences as a means to grow spiritually and intellectually.
You might be able to think of a few more examples.
Consider these solemn words from Jane Austin:
“When I look out on such a night as this, I feel as if there could be neither wickedness nor sorrow in the world; and there certainly would be less of both if the sublimity of Nature were more attended to, and people were carried more out of themselves by contemplating such a scene.”
All of us have the capacity to be individual ambassadors of good will in our pursuit of happiness in this land of liberty which is grounded in Judeo-Christian principles. Put the politics aside! Let wickedness reign no more…
I left my faith two years ago. Before that time I was very committed to the faith of my birth, Unitarian Universalism. Ever since my children were born I served my church in various roles: teacher, membership chair, governing board member and past president, personnel committee chair, leadership facilitator, and docent of its historic site.
Unitarian Universalism is described as a liberal religion characterized by a “free and responsible search for truth and meaning”, open to all persons, and without a creed. Long before gay marriage became legal, we affirmed this right of passage and performed many of these unions. Born out of the Judeo-Christian traditions, the faith now preaches that Love is their doctrine.
I have come to see that my church has lost its way during this time of racial upheaval and that it is trapped in today’s climate of identity politics. It started after the 2017 presidential election when the Unitarian Universalist Association began to promote the “Resistance”. During that time the Faith in Action Committee became heavily focused on social justice issues like the Black Lives Matter movement and White Privilege re-education. Now they march for the Poor People’s Campaign, everyone’s right for employment, and sustainable living wages.
The members of Unitarian Universalism have a long tradition of being inclusive and justice seeking which aligns well with the faith’s democratic governance structure. This method of “doing church” helped me to ground myself in governance models that are inclusive and sensitive to just action. These models I easily applied to my role as a city councilor, and I was able to create needed change in my community of diverse hearts and minds. However, “doing church” and “creating communities of justice” is not the same as “worship”.
Worship is the feeling and expression of reverence for a deity. One should not worship money, a privilege, or a social cause in place of God…this will cause emotional suffering when one comes to understand that the object replacing the worship of God is fallible. I see this happening in our larger cities…Government is expected to solve all of humanity’s problems. The more troubling thing is that most if not all churches now are misguided in their worship practice.
Like Jesus turning the tables of the greedy and manipulative money changers at the Temple, we must shake ourselves awake to our true purpose as caring individuals spreading the Good News that God wants us all to know; our Creator loves us and our prayerful good deeds lead directly to Him. This would be my church and my proudest affiliation. Does this worship experience exist for me here on earth without racial creeds or social justice dogma? Like Jesus, each of us must find our direct link to The ever loving God.
By all accounts George Floyd of Minneapolis was not afforded the dignity that a human being deserves during a policing situation. His killing by a police officer was unjust and reprehensible.
To make matters worse, the young people who demonstrated through acts of destruction brought the wrong attention to their cause of ending police brutality to people of color. If the pillaging of neighborhoods and city centers is justified, then be prepared for what comes next…
– communities that lack food and housing security,
– mom and pop businesses that will struggle to rebuild,
– City resources limited by insufficient funds,
– further break down in trust.
If the problem is about police brutality to people of color, then why is destruction of community the answer? It is not! Without an identified leader to communicate a cohesive and principled message of action on the issue by using peaceful means and clarity of purpose then this destruction does not end, and unfortunately anger through fear remains the only message.
There are two sides…The police department is one side, and they are represented by the local city government and their union. But who is it that comprises the other side? This other side should not be known as a “leftist fringe” group because that is not who they really are. This other side must be comprised of concerned citizens who have respect from the community members to act on behalf of their best interests.
Let me suggest a six point plan to de-escalate the present condition and create a move toward progress:
1) Select 65 Minneapolis citizens comprised of five members from each of the thirteen wards…These citizens would not be from the active leadership of government. These citizens along with a respected and trained facilitator would convene a community meeting with the Mayor and City Councilors to address police brutality concerns.
2) The agenda for this meeting would be to identify 3 measurable goals toward solving police brutality concerns and to select a committee of no more than 13 volunteers from the original 65 citizens (one person from each ward).
3) This citizen committee should identify their mission and put forward a vision.
4) A trained facilitator would work with the committee and the City Council to identify the measures of the three goals which the city would then be charged to implement.
5) Progress is assessed quarterly, and new goals are identified annually.
6) The model is repeated in every U.S. community that wants to see changes made to policing (or any other city activity) in good faith.
I guarantee that trust would be strengthened in all aspects of community life. This is a similar model that I have used within my community. It has the added benefits of teaching improved communication skills and training new community members for future leadership roles.
Fear is being allowed to fester in America…The type of fear that can only be fostered by the media and improved upon by the liberal academics because they are the prime manipulators of emotion. Is this fear linked to the polarizing politics of today? Perhaps it is simply the natural human instinct of preserving life at all cost? Either way, it’s definitely worth taking a closer look as only a Shrew would…
When President Roosevelt said in 1933 that ‘The only thing to fear is fear itself…’, he was not far from the mark. During that time we were at the peak of the Great Depression. He went on saying, ‘…fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance…’ Fear as an emotion is ephemeral unless a person is consumed by it nonstop.
In my booklet, Archetypes of the Human Spirit, I picture a large fish with many sharp teeth as a symbol of the fear that consumes all efforts to improve not unlike the Bible story of Jonah and the whale.
This all consuming fear is that which comes when you are not sure that your choices are leading you in the best direction. Fortunately we have the ability to look back on past choices to determine the best path forward…This is why learning factual history is so important! In your own life your history is all of those past choices, and the outcome of those choices are what you have to learn by. Your anxiety ridden, uncomfortable present or future is an illusion of fear until you reconcile those past choices with what you learned after making them…And if you succeed in applying this model, you gain wisdom.
In America there is a certain effort underway to rewrite our history. This is an unfortunate circumstance because the “new” history focuses on victimhood and is consuming humanity’s efforts to improve. Learning everything we can about why we had slavery, The Trail of Tears, women’s suffrage, Jim Crow and gay rights in our “free” society is good, but only if we are brave enough to see the true context as whole and proper. It is only then that we can make progress as a nation that values Liberty for all rather than equality as an outcome for all.
The Covid 19 pandemic has helped the USA (AKA America) to discover its founding roots, and Liberty is stronger than ever!
I don’t know what some of these governors were thinking when they implemented controls on what could and could not be done to purchase specific items, worship in various socially distant ways, or enjoy the outdoors…But when those thoughts became actual rule, people rightly stood their ground to confront the tyranny.
This is exactly how the fight for civil rights began. Individuals must have dominion over there autonomy otherwise government actions will be encouraged to encroach on their personhood. Our Creator made us whole beings in order to experience a life rich with wonder, joy, risk and pain…This is the Love that is God, not the protection that is the mommy state.
In the USA the government can give certain rights, but the government itself does not have the civil right of a tyrant because our representatives are elected to make sure the balance of power leans on the side of the people, each of whom have the responsibility of their own actions. One, two or thousands of individuals can protest the government when their Constitutional rights are infringed upon, that’s why we have a Constitution to list these rights out specifically!!
This pandemic is quite a bit different than the pandemic of 1918. A century ago we had the radio and the press to inform the masses, yet very little was known about viruses and their transmission. A News of the World report from November 1918 lists the following as recommended precautions against contracting the flu: “Wash inside nose with soap and water each night and morning; force yourself to sneeze night and morning then breath deeply; do not wear a muffler; take sharp walks regularly and walk home from work; eat plenty of porridge.” Hygiene practices were much different with indoor plumbing and sanitation being mostly for the wealthy. And there were far fewer hospitals not to mention life saving technology.
Today’s pandemic is brought to you by the World Health Organization. The WHO’s primary role is to direct international health within the United Nations’ system and to lead partners in global health responses. This organization has been politicized because of various governmental influences and funding. It is very American to question the authority of the WHO. If America is basing it’s health informatics on information coming from this organization, and this organization recommends tracking the health of EVERYONE on the planet…would we do this? Of course not!! But then again, if a simple majority of our population in America is sufficiently frightened of what “could be” then perhaps the government would implement this authoritarian system, and if some of us “opt out” does this add to the polarization in our country? I think some of our government leaders would just love for this to happen because it would reinforce their need to be in charge and force compliance…Sound familiar? Isn’t this what is currently happening in various communities in regard to covid19?
Here’s a good Jeopardy question: What two words describe outcomes of a purposeful action that are not foreseen? Answer: Unintended consequences.
Unintended consequences are the polar opposite of progress, and many progressive actions lead to unintended consequences. My previous two blogs focused on defining the methods of progress and progressivism by giving historical reference and some results for each method. Both methods ultimately have a humanitarian goal, however only one of them uses higher consciousness to obtain the most compassionate outcome. Progress is achieved by people who are directly impacted by trauma to find healing and practical outcomes (i.e. solutions) for themselves. Progressivism is a forced outcome by “experts” on a broad spectrum of people…Although the intention of a progressive action is perceived by some as good, the outcome is minimally effective and invariably produces a new trauma.
In the USA it is each individual and their liberty that define the nation. Only the individual can feel and know their happiness, and only the individual can feel and know their bondage whether it is self imposed by the mind or forced on them by another. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is the responsibility of the individual.
What is an unintended consequence of smoking? You are free to smoke and you may take happiness in it, but if you are addicted to it and are susceptible to physical ailments the unintended consequence could mean chronic health issues or death.
What is an unintended consequence of spending above your means? You can take a loan for a car or home with all the bells and whistles because it is what you have always wanted, but the payments could be a strain on being able to save for the unexpected.
The USA should not be defined by its government or its corporations. Neither of these entities should be trusted to always act in a manner that can ensure a guaranteed positive outcome for people’s best interests. The government’s responsibility is to defend the nation and enact laws. Corporations and businesses help to create wealth for a nation to thrive.
What is an unintended consequence of a corporation employing unqualified or corrupt managers? The corporation has a great product or service and employs many staff who enjoy their jobs and incomes, but risky actions taken by senior management could mean harm to consumers or staff as well as layoffs or closing.
What is an unintended consequence of the government imposing a month long mandatory stay at home order on the vast majority of its population during a pandemic? Certain communities might gain time to prepare for increased hospitalizations of some people, but many more people run the risk of losing their incomes, depression and suicide, rising domestic abuse and the deterioration of individual liberties.
If you take the time to notice them, governments and corporations take progressive actions all the time with perceived moral goals, but the outcomes are not necessarily moral for everyone and inevitably lead to unintended consequences. Only individuals can use their mind and heart to judge what is right and wrong for themselves, form the basis for what is needed, and make progress in society. Governments and corporations are influenced by the individual constituent/consumer need and act in relationship to them, thereby ensuring their welfare (not giving welfare).
“Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead, American cultural anthropologist
“…establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare and secure the Blessings of Liberty…” – From the Constitution Preamble and the direct responsibility of elected officers.
My last blog post “Progress vs Progressivism” attempted to explain that progress is a condition of our U.S. Constitution and Progressivism is a construct that hinders such progress. I used examples from the Civil War and Reconstruction era to show the difference.
The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s was also an important time of progress in our history. Not all activists of the 60’s can be considered hero’s for the changes they wished to achieve. I am currently reading Great Society by Amity Shlaes. I would like to relate to you why the details in this book have affirmed my conclusions about why our society’s current focus on Progressivism lead by a “Social Democrat Party” is bad for our culture…But first some historical context:
Since about 1880 Jim Crow Laws were enacted in the southern states by white Democrat-dominated state legislatures. The Supreme Court decision Plessey vs Ferguson (1892) upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation under the “separate but equal” doctrine. Jim Crow Laws were Progressive actions that resulted in commonplace separate public accommodations based on race (see my blog Progress vs Progressivism for definitions). Today we look back on such laws as absurd, but the governmental leadership at the time and throughout the seven or eight decades since were allowing powerful Democrat political forces to dictate cultural norms. Republican insistence on States’ Rights made this no better…Civil Rights as it pertained to individuals and races were just beginning to be understood.
Timeline of these decades:
1870 to 1914…2nd Industrial Revolution leap forward in technology and society (people lead actions)
1914 to 1918…World War 1 (government lead action)
1920…Congress passes the 19th Amendment – Women’s right to vote (people lead action)
1920 to 1929…The Roaring Twenties time of prosperity (people lead action)
1929 to1933…The Great Depression (spurred on by government greed in the twenties)
1933 to 1939…The New Deal (government intervention)
1939 to 1945…World War 2 (government lead action)
1945 to 1989…Post war economic expansion (people lead action)
1961 to 1975…Vietnam War draft era (government lead action)
What we notice in this timeline is that during the 2nd Industrial Revolution the formation of groups such as the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and the Suffragettes were instrumental in obtaining crucial reforms to working conditions and the women’s right to vote. These reforms needed to be lead by the critical mass of non-political people lead actions in order for hearts and minds to change and common sense to prevail in Congress. This was progress!
Wars and the Depression however were instigated by government lead actions. The timeline shows an interesting back and forth between non-political action (changes made by people) and political action (initiatives made by governments). By the time of the Post World War 2 economic expansion, the U.S. was ready for another critical mass of non-political people lead activity, namely the Civil Rights Movement. It was helpful that this movement aligned with the Vietnam anti-war people lead activism. Individuals would not be “used” by their government’s activities any longer!
It was Reverend Martin Luther King JR who lead the people toward necessary civil rights changes. Society needed the common place Jim Crow laws to be eliminated, and this could only happen with a ground-swell of people power. Under this pressure, President Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights act that eliminated Jim Crow laws and the 1965 Voting Rights Act that prohibits racial discrimination in voting. Ending our involvement in the Vietnam War would prove to be more difficult.
In Great Society we learn that during the late 50’s and early 60’s companies like General Electric and Ford Motor Company were employing, expanding, and creating with great speed. The AFL which had now become the AFL-CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations) along with progressive leaders like Walter Reuther (United Auto Workers) and anti war political activists like Tom Hayden were working their powerful influence on government systems to help President Lyndon Bains Johnson (LBJ) form his anti-poverty programs…After the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, LBJ as the new President, began to implement a plan with Reuther and Hayden to end poverty in America. His “Great Society” vision was the center of his 1965 election bid. What I found most interesting about LBJ during this bid for election was that in order to obtain the African American vote he promised them that they could caucus at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) so that they would have delegates appointed for the election process. This did not happen because the (racist) DNC would not allow it. LBJ was courting the African American voters with programs and promises aka “Progressivism”. LBJ managed to retain their votes anyway and won the 1965 Presidency in a landslide.
By this time it was apparent to the Democrat majority that more government programs were the way to maintain leadership power. With the help of Union Leaders and Progressive Activist Leaders the federal government worked to replace the authority of mayors and local leaders…Federal funds flowed to jobs program oriented organizations. Locally elected leaders were instructed to add community activists to these organizational boards. These activists liked to stir up tension on city streets. Eventually the mayors and local leaders caved to federal pressures and ever since then the federal government has procured more authority over social benefit programs at State and Municipal levels.
For example; Federal “experts” redefined eminent domain laws to remove entire neighborhoods where low income families lived and worked in comfort, condemning these areas as “blighted”. The new wisdom was that federally built high rise low income housing projects would be more beneficial. However, there were consequences to these actions, mainly that whites decided to move to the suburbs thus leaving the struggling black population to remain…Struggling because there were few jobs available for black men in these cities due to union bias. Federal welfare programs during this time discouraged fathers to remain in these government subsidized housing projects…Fathers needed to be out of state in order for mothers and children to qualify. We now know the consequences of these “Great Society” actions. This begs the question of why weren’t the Great Society jobs programs helping. Well, they weren’t helping because these funds were pocketed by greedy, prejudiced, progressive union lead program officials…Progress for African American workers and families was stunted by these government actions.
In short, I believe that progress happens best when affected people unite through first understanding how government inspired systems shrink their civil liberties, then changing hearts and minds in the process, and ultimately solving problems in fair and sensible ways. Progressivism lead by government “experts” and corporate or union cronies is infused with unintended consequences…Or are they unintended? My next blog post will focus on this question.
I am not a big fan of what is currently called “identity politics” which seems to be infiltrating many discussions (political or not) these days. I think the focus on marginalized people only adds to the struggle our country has to free itself from the scourge of “ism’s” that should not define people. I’ve heard it argued that it is because of our whiteness in the United States that people of color have little success in our culture. In this case the “whiteness” means that white people who hold all the privileges unconsciously exclude people of color (POC) in hiring practices and/or promotion choices and if they consciously exclude POC then this practice is biased and racist, and that without exception white people are all racist as well as the U.S. culture itself including its science and curricula.
I have also heard it said that it takes three generations to get past a traumatic experience…This makes some sense. As Erich Fromm puts it, “…something life defining and deeply intimate is over.” The child recognizes how the former generation as shaped their own experiences and how they have been charged through the stories and experiences to carry the trauma into the future. One helps to heal future generations by rising above the remnants of these past injuries. This is the very definition of the word progress. AND I believe this progress works within cultural traumas as well.
Our most recent example of a cultural trauma is 9/11. My generation bore witness to a tragic man made event which killed thousands of people on American soil on September 11, 2001. My children are growing up with the stories about the event which include stories that affected my family who were traveling by plane from Boston on that morning. Now, every time my children travel they must listen to my admonition to be safe and stay aware of their surroundings, look for exits and never let down their guard. They were in elementary school at the time of 9/11 so these stories have been transferred to them in ways that I might not totally comprehend, yet they live their lives with less attachment to this event as will their children who will hopefully not even need to experience the left-over wars against terrorism that still exist today. My grandchildren will live with the televised memorial ceremonies, but they will be far removed from the actual trauma. This progress toward healing is culturally significant and forever part of U.S. history because we must never forget in order to not repeat these actions. Experience is felt on an individual basis…My experience isn’t the same as your experience.
With identity politics the marginalized groups will never experience the progress of healing if their stories are not allowed to have generational closure. When no closure occurs, then Progressivism is allowed to rear its ugly head. Progressivism advocates social reform with goals that are politically motivated. It demands radical change in current cultural systems in order to “improve” society. The people who push for progressive methods care little for historical context. Instead, the leap forward must be made based on current thought, expert advise and/or empathetic emotion.
If we take a look at the historical context of the Emancipation Proclamation, we can learn a lot about progress vs Progressivism:
The Civil War started in 1861 because the Confederate southern slave states did not want to be part of the United States if they could not keep slavery in tact. It wasn’t until the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 that the slaves were finally freed…Many of these freed slaves fought in the Civil War against the Confederacy, and the addition of these men to the Union effort helped to win the Civil War against the Confederacy. There were many proud acts of heroism by Negro soldiers during that time.
When the Civil War ended in 1865, Congress enacted the Freedman’s Bureau and passed the Civil Rights Bill in 1866 after Lincoln’s death because the southern states which were majority Democrat began to pass their own “black codes” to hinder the progress of Negroes in their states. Congress at that time was majority Republican. Andrew Johnson (Lincoln’s Vice President and now President after Lincoln’s assassination) did not want to force reconstruction of the south because he was determined to respect states’ rights, however the Congress over-rode his veto of The Reconstruction Act of 1867 and both the 14th and 15th Amendments. For ten years Negroes enjoyed the freedoms of all free male citizens and held many state and Congressional leadership roles. During this time the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) targeted many Republicans, whites and blacks who were sympathetic to the reconstruction.
Even though great strides were being made toward civil freedoms at this time, uncontrollable events happened to cause an economic depression during 1874. The financial panic of 1873 was a result of over-expansion in industry and railroads, a drop in European demand for American farm products, and a drop off of European investment. To compound matters, the U.S. Congress (which had long held its Republican majority) was pushed to pass the Compromise of 1876 which resulted in the U.S. federal government pulling the last troops out of the South ending the Reconstruction era. After this happened the southern states reverted many Negro owned lands back to whites, enacted segregation laws and worked to disenfranchise the negro. These regressive conditions would remain in place for a century until the 1965 Civil Rights Movement.
What can we learn from these historical events? Here are my thoughts:
1) The country was divided philosophically. There were slave states where slavery was legal and “free” states where slavery was illegal. Abolition of slavery was being thought about since about 1830, one generation before the Civil War.
2) “Rights” were understood as property rights and state’s rights, therefore the Confederacy of southern states saw Lincoln’s actions as tyrannical. We should keep in mind that at this time “civil rights” were not a concept, for instance during this time women could only own inherited property and their rights were limited to state enacted laws.
3) Slaves were “property”. The Civil War happened because the southern slave states wanted their autonomy as slave states, but Lincoln and the Republican controlled Congress did not want a “divided” country.
4) The Emancipation Proclamation was finally given almost two years after the war started because the Confederacy’s strength needed to be crippled. Freed slaves signed up for the fight against the Confederacy even though they had no guarantee of a sure outcome. Their heroism needs to be recognized in our history books and with more statues since these stories and their context in history help future generations heal from the trauma of slavery.
5) The Civil Rights Bill of 1866 was the first federal law to define citizenship and affirm that all citizens are equally protected by the law without regard to race, color, or previous condition. We must remember that a law does not necessarily change hearts and minds…The southern states still had the autonomy to pass laws to curb the conduct of Negroes therefore Congress passed the 14th amendment (no state shall enact laws that abridge the privileges or immunities of U.S. citizens) and 15th amendment (the right of citizens to vote can not be abridged by the U.S. or any state on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude). Also, Congress passed the Reconstruction Act to enforce compliance by the southern states after the Civil War.
6) The Republican Congress at that time was in a struggle with President Andrew Johnson over Presidential powers…Johnson wanted to be more lenient with Reconstruction. What does his impeachment teach us about the balance of power during that time?
7) Reconstruction enforcement remained for only ten years…Economic uncertainty and politics unfortunately did not allow for the new conditions under military enforcement to remain for longer because if they had remained for at least ten more years, I believe the next generation would have been closer to healing the trauma of slavery. Instead, southern Democrat leaders began to implement “progressive” laws to deal with “improving” society in their states, and the KKK was allowed to run rampant.
8) The actions from 1830 to 1876 were progress for the anti-slavery movement and the future “civil rights” that we think of today…REMEMBER that only white men with property could vote during much of this time AND reason prevailed. “Whiteness” could not necessarily be equated to being “Racist”.
The Preamble ratified June 21, 1788:
WE THE PEOPLE of the United States of America, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America...This Preamble sets the tone for progress!
My next blog will focus on the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement and the progress that was made during that time toward civil justice.