We the People
“We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
This past Wednesday night, I couldn’t sleep, as blood was spilled over the sacred halls where I, as an American, have made pilgrimage. As Insurgent loyalists, encouraged by their sovereign, tried to disrupt the peaceful transition of power in the heart of modern democracy. As police reacted differently to this protest than to peaceful protests of black and brown Americans. As police fell back again and again before the crowd mixed with white supremacist, Antisemitic, and neo-fascist messaging, playing at patriotism until they caused chaos and symbolically threatened democracy.
In the proceedings which followed, some lawmakers threw in their lot with the insurrectionists, seeking to disenfranchise voters and claim the Republic for themselves. Other lawmakers, who had previously flirted with sedition, seemed frightened enough to withdraw their entreat with treason. They looked into themselves and remembered the Constitution.
That document, written on yellowed paper and signed as a negotiated wish for prosperous posterity, enshrined many of the values which became models of good government around the world. It is not perfect (see the 3/5th Compromise). But it points to something higher, and ideal bigger than any of our ambitions – that all humanity are B’tzelem Elohim– created equal.
While not all American ideals are Canadian ideals, and not all Canadian ideals are Jewish ideals, we can all align over the idea that individuals over the age of majority have a duty – a sacred obligation – to participate in the life of our communities. Any who stand in the way of the performance of this duty are committing a reprehensible act – one that is seen as against the foundational principles enshrined in our sacred documents.
I pray that as the blood is bleached, the statues of state repaired, the image of liberty and justice slowly refocused – that mournful memory does not soon fade. The shock and the terror, the images of flags and shirts meant to cause pain being paraded – the broken glass and feet on desks. That these rekindle within us the lamp which seeks to spread light into the darkness. That we can seek out the silenced voices and ask them to speak louder. That ideals enshrined in sacred documents need us to come to life.