From the tiny child laying in its crib, burbling in happiness, or wailing with hunger, to the arthritic fellow making his way to his mailbox to look for a letter from his grandchildren–from the young woman on the bus taking her from her childhood home to a dream of greatness in the city to the old woman sitting on her porch, cat in her lap, calling cheerfully to the neighbors tending their garden. From the homeless child sleeping on the school steps to the woman walking down the university steps, diploma in her hand.
From the guy standing in the unemployment line, trying to find another job after his was eliminated or outsourced, to the CEO who gave the order. From the long haired, bearded busker playing guitar at the market, voice raised in a song of hope or despair, to the slick haired concert promoter hob-knobbing with the stars.
We are all participants in what was once considered a grand experiment, a society in which we, the people, were all considered equal before the law, that insisted that each of our voices could be heard by those we elected to represent us.
It wasn’t always true, of course, but it was a work in progress. One by one, the barriers were torn down and each segment of society became yet another to join their voices in the song of freedom. We believed that by working hard we could make a better world and a better life for our children.
When we stood and opposed the robber barons, fighting for the right to workplace safety, and the right to see our children to go to school rather than being forced to work alongside us, we did it for everyone. We did it for our children, and the children of our neighbors, and the children that would be born to them as well.
When we went off to fight the tyrant who tried to consume Europe, we did it for those who were dying, and those who were not yet born, because the hope of the future deserved it.
When we stood up against the war in southeast Asia, it wasn’t just for ourselves, but for the children of all Americans, and the people there who also deserved to live in peace, to try to determine their own fate. We didn’t do it because we don’t believe in America, and what it’s supposed to represent, but because we do.
When we protested the dumping of toxic wastes into the earth, the rivers, and the sea, it wasn’t just to protect ourselves, or our own children, but to protect ALL of us, and all our children. When we fought for clean air, it wasn’t to ensure our own breaths, but to ensure that all of us could continue to breathe air that didn’t make us sick. When we stood up against the decimation of forest land, it was so all our children could enjoy the wonders of nature as we had. As our ancestors had.
America is more than a land mass, more than a nation of people. America is an idea. The idea that everybody matters, from the lowest to the highest, that everyone has a right to a decent life, and has a right to watch their children grow up in a world better yet than the one that they themselves remember.
Isn’t that what everyone wants? That their children inherit a world in which more things are possible, in which they have every chance to succeed no matter where they were born and into which walk of life?
That’s the one thing we liberals have been trying to say all along. That the farmer’s daughter in Ohio, or Kentucky, is just as deserving of a chance to succeed in life as the CEO’s son in New York or Chicago or Los Angeles. That’s why we stand and fight against those practices and policies that make it that much harder for them. Because if we didn’t, who would?
We believe everybody matters.