Of course this is who we are. But who do we want to be?

Tue, 2018-07-03

On this Independence Day, let’s go ahead and admit that 2018 has not been the most uplifting year.

Since January, there have been at least 23 shootings that left someone injured or killed at a school in the United States. As of last week, at least 2,000 minors separated from their parents were in the care of the Department of Health and Human Services, with no clear path to reunification. The past several months have seen high-profile instances of outright racial harassment and a much-bemoaned downturn in “civility.”

Income levels are stagnating, and inequality is soaring. A growing number of Americans despair of ever achieving the American Dream. The United Nations has reported on the United States’ rates of youth poverty, infant mortality and incarceration — the highest in the developed world. 

And each time a fresh outrage emerges or a disappointing piece of news breaks, a chorus rises up from politicians and everyday citizens alike: “This is not who we are.” Americans don’t keep children in cages. Americans don’t ask travelers for their citizenship papers. Americans don’t turn away the huddled masses. Americans don’t elect white nationalists to political office.