Esse Quam Videri

North Carolina has a motto that most school children learn. It captures our desire to be real and not fake. We strive to act as we believe and not to be petty or pretentious. It is an as aspirational standard of behavior that defines our lives as human beings.

My friend Charles Walton sent me an email that described a novel where a person who lived in a puritan community had a dream (nightmare) where he went into the woods and the people in the community had gathered. They had gathered to summon the devil to bring them in their midst so they could become their true selves. Although they lived in a community that was supposed to be puritan, actually their true selves were diabolical beings who were nothing like they pretended. He awoke from his dream (nightmare) but he was never again able to see these people without being aware of their true selves.

We are living such a nightmare in America. For so long we have pretended to be something we are not. We have been so interested in how we were perceived we did not want to face how we really are. Hiding behind a Constitution that described an ideal, we did not acknowledge the reality of our lives. The statement, “ we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’” was written at a time when many of the authors held slaves. Was “men” meant to refer to only white males? Have we been living a lie?

Donald Trump has ushered in a new era in America. Maybe his frankness has revealed America as we really are, not as we want to be seen. We are not a welcoming society with open arms for all who will come. “Bring me your tired…” has always been a lie. For me, right trumps democracy. While the multitude wanted to crucify Jesus, it did not mean he had done something wrong. In the name of defending ourselves, we have become merchants of death as the proliferation of guns, even those meant for war, has allowed us to become a society with more killings than any other. We equate nationalists with those who fight against prejudice. We believe that lying if it gets you what you want is justified. Anything for a dollar. Blind loyalty to an individual rather than an idea is a prescription for corruption.

We are only one month before we enter a new decade. There will be many decisions made on what kind of society we will become. Is climate change real? Can racism be overcome? Will our children enjoy a brighter future? Can we absorb the number of people who desire to get in this country to escape the conditions in their own country? Is making America great again more important than living up to the ideals we profess to believe? Should the primaries and the general election determine the direction of this country?

It is always said that this is the most important election in history. I think all of them are important. That is why I will always encourage people to vote. I believe it makes a difference.

Even more important is “to be rather than to seem”.


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