Monday, June 23, 2008

Minnesota Morning

From here I can see so clearly!
by Charlie Leck

The United States of America is, and was founded as, a conglomerate (union) of governments that rule over their individual states in manners that conform to the overall constitution and subsequent laws of the federal government. All of the people of this nation, though citizens of individual states, are one people under a common flag and are each promised the same guardianship of our rights by the constitution. And each of us is granted the same basic rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness;" and, I might add, we are also guaranteed "justice for all!"

Citizens of this extraordinary government like to think that it is the greatest nation on earth. But, is it?

We have the bad habit, in this country, of thinking that anyone who questions this is unpatriotic; when, in fact, our founding fathers established the union in a manner that encourages such regular examination.

From here – from this lovely, rural place – from this loft up near the tops of the trees – I can see the blue of the sky that goes on forever, arching above us all – arching above the 50 extraordinary and distinctive states of the nation.

An occasional bird flutters by and a squirrel bounds from limb to limb of a gigantic basswood tree. The birds – so many dozens of them – are singing their varied songs to me, managing, somehow, to make a symphony out of their strangely different offerings.

This is an extraordinary place to think and write.

This is a Minnesota morning. The air is cool and clear. I have the doors at each end of my study, which lead out on to separate decks, thrown wide open so I can feel the gentle and cooling breezes and hear the sounds of the forest that surrounds me.

I feel refreshed and invigorated.

Mississippi is yesterday. The little hovels are only a memory. The wee, poor ones are far from sight. The horror of unpunished murder recedes from memory. I am home and home is good and dear.

I think we have justice here. We are not pure. Our history is as tainted as that of many states. We pushed the Sioux unfairly and illegally from the land that was his – land that had been given to him by the Great Spirit centuries and centuries before we arrived in our covered wagons and carrying our weapons.

Yet, we've become a good and just state and we are alert to miscarriages of justice and the basic unfairnesses of the law.

A human can not kill another human here, as he might an animal, and not pay for the brutal act. The courts are strong here; yet also fair. Fairness is a good and noble word in Minnesota – a concept and sentiment held in near reverence by almost all of us.

It is good to be home; yet a part of me remains behind in Mississippi. Dear, lovely people – people I would like to know better and with whom I would like to be friends – are seeking and fighting for the kind of justice that is common and taken for granted here.

Yesterday, on a little hillock in Longdale (northeast of Philadelphia, Mississippi), I sat in the shade of some huge river oaks and listened to the "roll call of the martyrs of the Mississippi civil rights movement." It was an astonishing list of 50 people who had been slaughtered in Mississippi and whose murderers have gone unpunished.

Did you hear me? Are you an American? Do you brag that this is the greatest nation on the face of the earth? Do you say, as I have said, that this can not happen here?

It would not happen in Minnesota. It, according to the Constitution of our Federal Government, is not supposed to happen in Mississippi. It is not supposed to happen in any state. Tell that to James Chaney. Tell that to Emmett Till. Tell that to any of the dozens who died there while the justice system of Mississippi utterly failed them!

The good people there seek justice still. Their voices ring from Mississippi to Minnesota – from Mississippi to Washington, D.C.; yet, there is no swelling answer to their pleas for simple, rightful and deserved justice.

In cannot happen in America!

It has!

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