History is a harsh judge

When history happens, we make choices and decisions right now, right here by which future generations will judge us.

In 1776, would I have been a Tory or a Patriot? In 1861, would I have been for or against slavery? What would I have chosen? How would I have decided? Would I have been on the side to “nobly save, or meanly lose” (Abraham Lincoln) our extraordinary American experiment? My sense and study of history, admiration for our simultaneously fragile and strong democracy and idealism that unites more than divides us lead me to conclude that, despite risks, consequences and times, I would have been a Patriot and an abolitionist. But I can’t know for sure. So, I remain vigilant in my views, careful to evaluate anything that could be a threat to our democracy and our nation.

We’ve got to ask ourselves how history will judge what happened at the U.S. Capitol last week in the context of the last four years. Did we believe in people seeking to divide us in exchange for some deregulation here and a conservative judge there? Did we hear things repeated so often (“fake news”, “voter fraud”, “it’s a disgrace/disaster”) that we started believing them? Did we subscribe to the idea that calling fellow Americans names (loser, lyin’, sleepy, vicious, wacky) is okay? Did we confuse gross exaggeration for false conspiracy?

I think we did. History will judge us. It always does. It might say, as I often do, “What the heck were they thinking?!” We can redeem ourselves, our ideals and our democracy, tighten the perilously loosened “sacred knot that binds [us] together” (Alexander Hamilton). We owe no less to “ourselves and our posterity” (Thomas Jefferson).

Susan Campbell, Payson

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