A Privileged Nation

I am an American and I have always been proud to be. These last years have been challenging for our republic. I cannot say what our forefathers intended nor can anyone else. We must rely on their words and a myriad of interpretations of their written words.

What I can say is more obvious to anyone honest enough to see what lies before them. We have lost our desire to be one nation. Our acceptance (some say tolerance) of our neighbors and fellow Americans is the lowest I can recall in a long time. We each seem to view ‘our’ country through our individual biased lens. We do not accept that our neighbor’s view of this country can possibly be right because it does not mirror our own.

I always held dear to these words by Emma Lazarus:

The New Colossus
BY Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

She spoke of my earliest ancestors, none of whom were born here. This country belonged to those who wanted freedom enough to risk everything.

Today I celebrate the Independence of a nation that loved and protected all of her citizens, regardless of the private beliefs they held so dear. I will do what I can to fulfill my obligation to my children and my children’s children and to my neighbors, no matter how distinctly different we may be.

I leave you with these words by American poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti written in 2007. It is a cautionary tale to which I hope we will take heed. We can be better.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti (After Khalil Gibran) 2007

Pity the nation whose people are sheep
And whose shepherds mislead them

Pity the nation whose leaders are liars
Whose sages are silenced
And whose bigots haunt the airwaves

Pity the nation that raises not its voice
Except to praise conquerors
And acclaim the bully as hero
And aims to rule the world
By force and by torture

Pity the nation that knows
No other language but its own
And no other culture but its own

Pity the nation whose breath is money
And sleeps the sleep of the too well fed

Pity the nation oh pity the people
who allow their rights to erode
and their freedoms to be washed away

My country, tears of thee
Sweet land of liberty!

copyright Lawrence Ferlinghetti


33 thoughts on “A Privileged Nation”

  1. Maggie, thank you for this post. We have much to be proud of as Americans, and much to be sorry about, too. But we share that with so many countries and places in the world. And our country and its ideals have given hope to so many around the world. I’m trying to focus on that this evening as I spend the 4th in a different country, with knowing the challenges ahead and current turmoil back home are way too real, indeed.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree, Lisa. We have been an inspiration while also a disappointment to many. I hope we can come together as a nation and remember all that we are privileged to enjoy. It is because of the love of our nation we can call out our own atrocities and aim to correct them. Have a great holiday.

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  2. There are so many sheep and so little time, Maggie. I doubt we will ever get back together, and I fault all of us. The rabid right and left have spewed their vitriol for five years. The rest of the flock just wants to close its ears and think of something else.

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    1. It is a sad state of affairs, John. I hope those who are tired of the in-fighting do what is necessary to choose leaders and lawmakers who can return us to a place of honor and peace.

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  3. Such timely and beautiful words. Sadly we dropped the baton and have discovered the golden door stands for greed now.IMO. A warning to those tired and wretched, particularly poor, elderly, lame, halt…you are no longer welcome here unless you can pay. We’ve lost our way.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Melanie, it is all hard to fathom the disconnect between our government and our citizens. Another day with another mass shooting. Another young black man riddled with no less than 60 bullets from 8 different officers. There is no way to make it all make sense to me. I pray for peace, for solidarity, or at least a bit of humanity. Thanks for your comment.

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  4. Although the fireworks will be the same and the layout on picnic table will be the same, somehow this Fourth feels very different. Thank you for you words and for the introduction to Lawrence Ferlinghetti and his poem (I wonder how he knew about the bully being acclaimed as hero?).

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    1. I think much of our country was feeling the same. Sadly, several Americans lost their lives celebrating their freedom yesterday. We are in a sad place.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a deep love for the country I thought we were. It is devastating to see the damage done in a relatively short period time. I hope it is not too late to recover.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I can sense the pain of modern-day America, even as I fail to comprehend the obsession of that country with owning guns. But it is always ‘someone else’ doing the mass shootings. Then people buy more guns, to ‘protect themselves’ from those with guns. It’s complete madness.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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    1. It is very difficult to reconcile. Another mass shooting yesterday. I don’t know what will become of us, Pete. It is so very sad to me.

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  6. When you really examine the words of our country’s founding documents, they are clearly not about Us and Them, the worlds are about The We. Our Constitution’s preamble says it all: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, 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.”

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  7. I have thought of you often as I took a break from posting. You are one of the main reasons I have returned. May we each find a genuine way to live and write in the midst of so much chaos threatening to silence us. I hold your Florida daughter’s family especially close.

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    1. Elizabeth, I am humbled by your words. It is a precarious act, trying to find balance in this world. I believe In the good of people and while there is so much apparent hate, I still see the love every day. May we all do our part to raise the vibration of hope higher than that of despair.


    1. I read an article about the intent of the mob mentality. The hope is we will reach such a point of frustration, we will just give up. We cannot let that happen.


  8. Love, love, love this post Maggie. Your words and the poems reflect how many of us in America feel in this time. I hope we can climb our way out of division and darkness before it is too late.

    On a positive note, though, I hope you had a wonderful 4th and are having a nice week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We had a quiet but lovely 4th. I am always hopeful the quiet majority will rise to the challenge of saving our democracy – no small task!

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