Quote by Langston Hughes
On this eve of the fourth of July, I think this quote is just as resonant and important today as when the poet Langston Hughes wrote it in 1995.
We are taught in school how America was founded on the notion that every man should be free. According to the Declaration of Indolence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
But even as those words were written, these men held others in the bonds of slavery, saw women as second-class citizens, saw gay people as perverse and the Native Americans as savages. And to pretend otherwise is a form of gaslighting, of denying the verifiable truth of our past.
And that past still informs and shapes our present experience. Just as the trauma my older adult clients experienced in childhood has shaped their experiences and affected who they are today.
I still believe in striving to make these words of our founding fathers’ true. They have always been aspirational and I am not sure that we will ever truly get there, but these are aspirations worth fighting for.
It is possible to love our country enough, to hold it accountable for it’s past and present and demand more of it.
So, on the eve of our country’s birthday, I encourage each and every one of you to take stock of yourself and your elected officials, and ask are we living up to these truths that we hold to be self-evident? Are we living up to the ideals for what type of country we want to live in? And if not, then how do we change it?
This is an excerpt from the poem by Langston Hughes, who was an African-American poet and social activist.