Go Back? Never!
Three years ago, a young woman came to our door handing out political propaganda and announcing the formation of a new political action group in our county. She called the new group “The Patriotic Committee.” The young woman said, “We’re going to take our country back!” I didn’t respond to her (she would not have heard me anyway) but my inner spirit has been responding to her statement ever since. “Take our country back?” Where “back” are we going to take it—back to what, when, and to whom?
Shall we go back; way, way back? Since we are presently in the Christmas season, how about going back to the first Christmas when King Herod massacred the Innocents of Bethlehem and Rachel wept for her children who were no more? Or why don’t we go back to the Protestant Reformation or the Spanish Inquisition? I understood what the young woman wanted. She wanted to “take our country back” to some idyllic time when things were better. (No one seems to know exactly where “back” or “better” is, however).
Back to what, when, whom? Shall we go back to the time of the Civil War, when brother fought against brother and this nation was torn asunder? Take our country back to where, to what, to whom? Back to the Twentieth century? Back to World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, or Korea, or Vietnam? Take it back? Back to what, when, to whom? Back to the time when a people were enslaved in this country where all people are supposed to be created equal? Or back just a few weeks ago to the Grand Jury in New York or St. Louis? Where “back” do you want to go?”
Do you want to go back to a time when women could not vote? Or back to a time when people of color could not vote? Take our country back to when, to what, to whom?
If nothing else, this idea of “taking our country back,” suggests how ignorant we are of history—the history of our own nation—the history of the whole world. There has never been a better time than the present. Every time, place, and leadership group of the past has been soiled. Every time, place and leadership group has had its share of darkness.
So, no thanks! I don’t want to take this country back to any other time, place, or political leadership. I don’t want to take this country back to any earlier day, or any other period in its complicated and often despicable history. I want this country, this nation, to move forward. I want to be a part of shaping a new history. And not only do I want that for this land I love, but I also want the whole world to shape a new history. I surely do not want to take this country or the world back to any other time or place. I do not even want to hang on to the present time, for it too has its own darkness. But again, I would repeat for those who can hear: this country and world is better than what has ever been before. Go back? Never!