Beyond this American Moment
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor
As excruciating as this moment in American history may be, it is also a moment of American history and the erosion (perceived, real, and threatened) of institutions of our democracy should be deeply worrisome.
Nationalism (carefully understood as the notion that one's country is worthy of existence) requires faith in a system that surpasses the exigencies of the day, and faith is itself larger than one's own life. Therefore, we dare not abandon faith in the legitimacy of the institutions of our nation.
America has done (and continues to do) wrong things. Very wrong things. We have also accomplished great things. Truly magnificent ones. We are Senator McCarthy and we are Dr. King. We are RBG and we are DJT. In truth, America has only been as great in any given moment as Americans have acted in that given moment, and ours is one such trial. We have always been, in a word, as complicated as our citizenship, just as noble, just as unconscionably rude, just as irrepressibly hopeful. The Framers foretold such a reality because they themselves were hardly united in politics or in temperaments.
I will not wield my passionate American patriotism as a chisel against the institutions that comprise American Democracy, though I do believe unsuited human beings currently lead those institutions. A deeper view of our nation's still-short history deserves reinvestment in civic duty, not a rebellion against it.
If America hopes to transcend the harsh, partisan spirit of this national moment, we Americans must call upon their our angels in a moment when lesser ones beckon.
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