“Indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
If Americans had achieved the ability to truly honor this pledge, we would not have racial or religious violence in the United States. We have work to do.
There are at least three divergent narratives about the origins of this violence. Right, left, and center they are all off target, because they have been twisted to serve special interests, and corral the various cultural and economic classes in America that have been taught to listen only to their own rhetoric.
I don’t want to address of those narratives. Its a waste of time. They are a product of contemporary politics and will fade away with the passing of time and the unfolding of events.
I do want to point out that American militarism has more potential to unify than divide. America’s aggressive and violent tenancies are rooted in the genuine desire to do good. Certainly it is true that this desire has been twisted and bent to injustice. This is a product of human nature and an imperfect, growing political system. A good example of positive effects of militarism occurred when veterans of the newly integrated armed forces came back from Vietnam, joined the police and helped enforce the civil rights movement.
Let’s examine American military mottos:
Service before self, De Oppresso Liber (To Liberate the Oppressed), Semper Fidelis (Always Faithful) are not the words of a nation that wants mindless killers.
Both grassroots American culture and official propaganda have encouraged militarism in the United States as both a duty and a service, especially since World War II and the end of isolationism. Many point to unjust wars and high levels of gun violence to demonize this militarism, but I would argue that this demonization is actually a shield for classism and racism.
The publicized American violence is perceived in two forms: minority gang violence and mass killings by young white terrorists. Ultimately, both of these phenomenons are derived from systemic failings. People are not represented equally, and values are slowly being boiled out of the fabric of our society.
High School Advance Placement US Government classes teach that there are five core American values: liberty, equality, democracy, civic duty, and individual responsibility. Our most economically challenged populations (often minorities) have schools which are not equipped to teach these values. These communities are taught that these values do not apply to them. They are told that they do not have the education to get jobs, and that because they do not have jobs, they are trash.
Recent calls for Pastors, teachers, and other community leaders to carry weapons is alarming to me, not because I am opposed to the Second Amendment- train everyone and arm everyone as far as I am concerned! My problem is with the way it to framed: with fear. “Fear is the mind-killer” said the writer Frank Herbert, and it is. People are encouraged to carry weapons in fear of their neighbors and their fellow man. This is wrong and it is evil. I think carrying a weapon, to be used to last resort to defend your fellow man is good and right. Some may argue this is semantics, but they say intent is nine-tenths of the law for a reason!
A militarism of hate and aggression, focused on any enemy is caustic and can certainly result in societal violence and degradation. I strongly believe that the idealistic militarism of America, the idea that we have the strength and duty to help our fellow humans anywhere in the world, even through the force of arms, is healthy. What we must do is teach values and virtues to our young people of all races and backgrounds, so that whether they pick up the pen OR the sword we can be confident that they will conduct themselves honorably, justly, and courageously.