I don't know how many of you watched and/or listened to the State of the Union address or what you thought of it or if you stayed on board for the Democratic response and what you thought of that, but these are my thoughts:
“This is who we are.”
“This is not who we are.”
Both are right, and both wrong. We are and we are not what we appear to be.
We the people are not of one mind, and we are not of a single character. We are Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. We are Dr. Frankenstein, his monster, and the people of the village, and the little girl who was killed.
We the people are, though politicians and spokespersons too often forget it, the Native Americans who were here before the Europeans came, as well as those from Europe seeking religious freedom. Thus we are murderers and victims as well as dreamers. We the people came as slaves from Africa, brought slaves, bought and sold and worked slaves. We are all these things.
We are not only parents of children killed by immigrants but also immigrants or children of immigrants ourselves, and among native-born Americans there are murderers, too. We the people are children, parents, killers, and victims, and as police and members of the military, we display the same wide range of character and behavior found in American citizens at large.
We the people are law-abiding citizens, prisoners both guilty and innocent, and free individuals guilty of crimes for which we have so far escaped paying the price. We are those who go the extra mile and take on the burdens and problems of others and those who freeload and game the system. We are all of these.
We contradict each other and ourselves. Our dreams are incompatible, whether across the nation, within communities, or in our own hearts. We work to achieve them, or we demand that others do the work, or we hope for magic to transform our world. We hope and despair, are angry and complacent, take heart, lie down and cry, trudge on, give up. We do it all.
"This," today, is who we are, and this is not who are are. But whatever we are, we can be more. We can be something else. We can be better.