“Sweet land of liberty”

Published 9:52 am Friday, September 13, 2013

by Clyde Johnson

My country, ‘Tis of thee,
Sweet land of Liberty,
Of thee I sing:
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the Pilgrims’ pride,
From every mountainside,
Let Freedom ring.

The song “America (My Country Tis of Thee),” as penned by Samuel F Smith in 1832, reflects the essence of what every American hopes for.

Being the “Sweet land of Liberty,” suggests that citizens should prosper according to their own initiatives. This does always not happen. There are elements placed in society to promote the prosperity of some as they restrain the prosperity of others.

This country is made up of immigrants, barring the Native Americans (Indians). Some of the migrants came on their own free will; others were forced to come bonded in chains and shackles. While slavery was deplorable to many Americans, it brought wealth and prosperity to others.

Out of that deplorable condition grew the attitude that blacks are subservient in nature and depriving them of an education was one way to promote that character. These conditions fostered racism in this “Land of Liberty” that still exist today.

The dynamics of this country reveals a situation where the top 1 percent of the population controls 99 percent of the country’s wealth. Some of the 1 percent has a cash income of more than $2,000,000 a year, not considering investments.

On the other end of the spectrum people are living from pay check to pay check with no investments. Still others are in the welfare line just trying to survive from day to day. When you look at the overall situation, you realize that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer regardless to how hard they try to overcome. This is troublesome to the mind.

It is troublesome to the mind when Washington refuses to pass a single bill to benefit the majority of the people, especially the poor and the working class. It is troublesome to the mind when the congressmen we send to Washington expecting them to fairly represent us are bought by the lobbing 1 percent (which controls 99 percent of the wealth) to promote their own selfish agendas. It is troublesome to realize that there is no sense of fair play because of the greed that has infested our “Sweet Land of Liberty.”

This greed is coupled with racism. Believe is or not, racism is still deeply woven into the fabrics of this country. People don’t like the word “racism.” Many like to dispel the notion and think on a higher or different level. I submit to you that you cannot get rid of something by ignoring it or covering it up. It’s time for open discussions on this internalized illness that seeks to divide and destroy us as a united nation.

During the Civil Rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for freedom and justice for all. Freedom came; the schools and other public facilities were desegregated. I think some mistakenly thought desegregation would foster integration. Not So! Integration comes from the heart. It is internalized and is fueled by one’s spirituality. Putting people in the same social settings do not necessarily promote integration. The change must come from within the individual. This change in heart is missing in many Americans today. Because of this, we have an under current of racism in this country that has become more prevalent since the nation elected a black President.

There are those who cannot help from showing their resentment toward the nation’s first black family. They show it by doing everything they can to discredit the President. Some began formulating ways to oust and discredit President Obama before he took office. There are those in Congress who will not vote to pass a single bill that promotes the President’s agenda regardless of who will benefit from it. They would rather hurt their own constituents (who put them their in the first place) than to do something that gives credibility to the President.

Racial slurs aimed at the President and his family have become common place among a certain segment of the population. They try to play off these slurs by down playing them as being just a joke. A racial slur is not a joke. It shows the true racism that is internalized by the individual making the slur, and anyone who suggests it is “just a joke” is either a racist or out of touch with reality.

What kind of legacy will we leave our children? Will they be proud of the track record we leave them or will they detest this legacy which evolved out of personal greed and racism. It is so sad to realize that the “Land of Liberty” is headed for self destruction if we don’t change our ways. It is even sadder to realize that most of us are so caught up in our own selfish agendas that we don’t realize that we are headed for self destruction as a nation.

CLYDE JOHNSON of Franklin is a retired health physicist of the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth. He can be contacted at 562-4402.