United States of America
1776 – 2020
The great American experiment to create a free nation of the people and for the people lasted 244 years. The truth is when the founding fathers created our nation, they believed men could do better if they governed themselves and protected individual liberties and freedoms that were protected by law. Founding Father Thomas Jefferson was tasked with writing our Declaration of Independence. Within the Declaration Thomas Jefferson wrote, “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.” These are powerful words that would inspire the creation of a new nation and lay the moral foundation to create the Constitution of the United States the supreme law of the land; however, when Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence he owned slaves from the African Continent (black men, women, and children). What Jefferson meant to say, was all men who look like me are created equal. See, the Great America Experiment was flawed from its birth. The Sin of Slavery was a cancer upon the new nation.
Before the new nation reached its’ Centennial birthday the sin of slavery would divide our great nation. The new nation was at a moral tipping point and the issue of slavery was a major reason that led to the American Civil War. Northern states and southern states would wage war against each other, and brother would fight brother. As the bloody war dragged on, our 16th President of the United States Abraham Lincoln issued an executive order called the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. This executive ordered declared that all persons held as slaves in the rebellious states be freed. Congress would pass the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and the required number of states would ratify the amendment in 1865, outlawing slavery in the United States. It seemed that America sin of slavery was over and that all men would finally be equal to live free and pursue their dreams. However, not everyone felt this way and racism and prejudiced flourished throughout the nation and was even woven into the fabric of our society. Institutional racism was in our nation’s DNA. In the south Jim Crow Laws were created that enforced racial segregation. Jim Crow laws were upheld in 1896, in the case of Plessy vs. Ferguson, in which the U.S. Supreme Court laid out its “separate but equal” legal doctrine for facilities for African Americans. Institutional racism was protected by law, and it was not until the Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that led to Congress passing the Civil Rights Act of 1968, and signed into law by 36th President of the United States Lyndon B. Johnson. The law protected minority Americans against discrimination. Perhaps now, racism would die by federal law. There was hope, but this would fade as well.
In 2008, America voted for the first African American President of the United States. President Barack Hussein Obama was sworn into officer in 2009, becoming our 44th President of the United States. The nation would celebrate but not all Americans saw this as a victory. Soon, those who politically disagreed with President Obamas philosophy would find comfort in trying to discreate our first African American president by claiming he was not a real American, and not born in the United States. This was racism but it dressed in corporate attire, attend conventions, held media events, and was educated. These American bigots would weaponize social media and facts no longer mattered if you had enough followers sharing the same lie over and over on social media. Soon the prior two major political parties would use social media to wage war with those who dared to think different. The nation was dividing again and was losing the ability to hold civil debates and opposing viewpoints meant you were the enemy. Our society decided not to talk with each other but talk at each other. Neither side was listening or more like they chose not to listen or understand those who thought and felt different. As Abe Lincoln once said, “A house divided against itself, cannot stand.”
In late 2019, China discovered they had cases of a new kind of pneumonia; however, when 2020 arrived, Americans were looking forward to a New Year. The economy was doing good, unemployment was the lowest it has been in decades. Despite the political divide in the nation, there was hope for a fresh start. By February, the world was understanding that the pneumonia reported from China was far worse then reported. Our national leadership ignored the early warning signs from world health experts, and this failure of leadership put in motion a disaster in the making. The new pneumonia could spread easily from person to person. Scientist named this new medial disease COVID-19. It would soon become a global pandemic and killer. As nations tried to stop the spread, medical experts warned we need to social distance, there was no known working medical treatments and no vaccine. A once thriving economy would be placed on hold, as schools and business closed. Millions of Americans were suddenly unemployed. The stock market crashed, as more and more Americans became sick. By the end of May of 2020 COVID-19 had taken over 105K lives in the United States. Once again, the division in American flourished. There was those who wanted to stay home and listen to medical experts’ advice, while the other half wanted to continue business as usually and take the risk. The divisions in America were widening even more. Even with the pandemic a real threat, America needed to find a way to reopen and jump start the economy. America found itself in a no-win situation, but the only thing certain was the division.
Just as we thought things could not get any worse in Minneapolis, MN four police officers were caught on tape holding down a handcuffed black man, and one of the officers was kneeling across the man’s neck as he plead with the officers that he could not breath and people filming the incident pleaded with the officers to get off the mans neck because they feared for his life. The officer knelt on the man’s neck for nearly nine minutes. The nation watched as a black man died at the hands of those who swore an oath to protect and serve was shown to the world and America. Even police officers from all over our nation were appalled and condemned the actions of those officers, and the Minneapolis Police Chief acted quickly to fire the officers involved within 24 hours; however, the fuse was lit and the nation exploded in anger. This time it was just not black Americans angry at what they witnessed all Americans were angry and demanded justice. This is not the first time a black American has died in police custody or by police actions. Racial tensions overflowed and people took to the streets to protest. Soon the protest turned into a riot, looting, burning of business, and burning of police vehicles spread to most American cities. Not all that who were peaceful protesting turned towards lawlessness, just like not all police are bad. America lost the ability to separate the wrong doers and peaceful protestors were lumped into criminal thugs and officers who proudly serve with dignity were lumped into the category of racist murdering pigs. The ability to reason and show compassion, dignity, respect, and trust were lost. America was at war with itself in the middle of a global pandemic. The world and America watched as our nation burned.
To make things worse, there was no national leadership to share words of comfort, only tweets from our President dividing us more. America is burning and gas is being tossed on the fire because the nation has never healed from our National sins. When we will learn to talk and listen to each other? What keeps us from changing and living up to the people we know we can be? Why can we not love and respect each other as brothers and sisters? When will we truly just be Americans? We are a country of immigrants that hates immigration. We are lost and have no will to change.
America was founded on violent revolution and ended in violent revolution. We were just too stubborn and proud to change. This was the reason that the great experiment has failed.
Even though America is in the ICU we are at the point of no return. The world is watching us, our children our watching us. Who will have the courage and leadership to bring us together? Where is that leader or leaders we need and deserve? If we do not have the honest talk about race and what it means to live without fear are nation will drift into history just like the other extinct civilizations.
Is 2020 the year that the United States great experiment faded into history?
Mark Bond worked in law enforcement and has been a firearms trainer for more than 30 years. His law enforcement experience includes the military, local, state, and federal levels as a police officer and criminal investigator. Mark obtained a BS and MS in Criminal Justice, and M.Ed in Educational Leadership with Summa Cum Laude Honors. Mark has a Doctor of Education (Ed.D) with a concentration in college teaching and learning. Mark is currently an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at a university and adjunct professor of administration of justice studies at a community college.