The white screen screams, staring, as if saying, “Okay, let’s go.”
Waiting for the pounding (my colleagues have long called me “Tap” for the abuse I can inflict on a keyboard. Hence, Klatterings) to ensue.
On hold, I suppose, for the profound message about the national holiday being celebrated this week.
Not just a national holiday, but the National Holiday.
The one commemorating a document of ideals as well as the courage and fortitude of men, yes, all men, who had their fill of a king and the spines to tread onto foreign terrain.
As a famous movie line goes, America, democracy, is messy.
You’ve got to want it bad; it will put up a fight.
And, there is no question that regardless of one’s views these days, on the left and the right, the voices, the level of passion, rhetoric, okay, fight, seems to represent an extreme level of wanting it bad.
The America we see right now has mastered the art of talking past each other, of shouting to the high hills with the belief that the louder and more often we speak the more we speak the truth.
“I’m going to tell you like it is,” we are fond of saying.
I was raised in a church-going household.
I tried to feign more illness to get out of going to church each Sunday as I did school.
In neither case did it work one whit.
And my father, as was his wont to dissect everything down to its molecules, was an academic on matters of faith.
At his funeral, the eulogy most emotional to his children was one delivered by three local priests from the small town he had retired to regaling with stories of my dad effectively inviting himself into their Bible study group.
And then proceeding to drive them to even greater heights of learning.
That is all a very long-winded way of saying that the empathy, compassion, for the weak, the poor, the elderly, those who don’t see the world as we, that so many of us, regardless of our church, learned when we were young, has disappeared.
Without it, we are left to battles over winners or losers, right or wrong and it always seems that must be decided with a WWE death match.
In this age of so much dissonance, so much nastiness, coarseness, and that could easily refer these days to city or county meeting rooms as national debate, remembering what happened in the 1770s offers hope.
Fact was there was, as the kids say, some heavy shade being thrown around during those Philadelphia conclaves back in the day.
In private writings, sometimes in public debate, those Founding Fathers, paragons of virtue, could smote an opponent with language as indelicate in its day as some of the bombs currently Tweeted about.
The newspapers of the day, well, they lived up to the epithet of “fake news” to the extent that in comparison some of the balderdash on Facebook and social media seems positively investigative journalism.
And those Founding Fathers, those upright monuments, often contributed to the partisanship, and personality-driven publications, either with money or writing under pen names that were as effective at hiding identity as a mirror.
Read through biographies of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, George Washington and some of the others and a reader finds plenty of enmity to go with adulation.
Adams and Jefferson spent decades directly or through proxies attacking each other in the years after the Declaration.
They deeply despised each other, and the others view of government’s role, until shortly before their deaths on the same day, also a July 4.
Few seemed to like Hamilton, an immigrant born out of wedlock and something of a banty rooster.
He lived a pathetically short life after being on the losing end of a duel with a political rival, who aspired to be Vice President and nearly was.
The two actually worked together as lawyers early in their careers; their spat was almost entirely generated within the newspapers that favored, or opposed, their respective political position.
There are many cases of signatories of the Declaration of Independence (and not on July 4, but a couple of days earlier) who could barely stand to be in the same room with each other let alone affix signatures on a single document.
Somehow, however, through so much outsized division and immense ego, those dandied, bewigged fellows managed to put aside personal and political scuffles, and often competing agendas, to establish the framework, the reason, for a country.
They had an overarching goal, to rid themselves of a fickle, obnoxious ruler an ocean away and to forge for themselves independence.
They only barely understood what they were doing other than nominating themselves for hanging.
That Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and Constitution that would follow, would leave some important, critical, details to future generations, and a civil war, to fill in but the blanks were the product of what is completely absent in today’s national leaders: compromise.
The most significant example, of course, they compromised on addressing slavery, much to the shame of future generations, because forming a country was paramount.
In essentially explaining what they had wrought, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, would collaborate on the Federalist Papers, the brilliant explanation and framework defining the government that was to come.
That was the outline of the government we have today.
Hamilton and Madison also came to despise each other, but it didn’t impact the Federalist Papers they were writing.
It was really all quite astounding, to put aside the frailties of human nature, the pettiness, jealously, ego, differences of opinion on the role of government, and forge a document, and a government, that survived 242 years.
That provides the reason to celebrate, and, maybe, to remember the possible in this time riddled with the seemingly impossible.