“…I can understand the impatience of many with the halting progress made by new democracies around the world. From our vantage point, our own democracy and government may appear to have come easily. But they did not.
Thirteen years after America declared its independence, we had to completely revamp our government.
And though in 1789 we started with a near perfect document, the Constitution, it took decades, even centuries for us to build a more perfect country. It took over seventy-five more years to achieve the abolition of slavery. It was fifty-five years after the surrender at Appomattox before women earned the right to vote and another forty-five years beyond that before real civil rights came to our own nation.
Only in hindsight do we feel the onward rush of progress and think of it as inevitable and unstoppable. In the moment, it looks like something else indeed.”
~Laura Bush, in Spoken from the Heart (paragraphing my own)
She posed the question to the whole class. “But what about when you want to do the right thing, but you just keep sinning again and again?”
I could identify.
I write a noble preamble with the best of intentions.
“We the people of the United States of America, in order to form a more perfect union…”
Slavery. Sexism. Racism.
Divided. At war with myself. Many battles and few victories.
And even the victories that come are such broken, bittersweet victories.
One war won and another rises to take its place.
The steps of progress painfully slow.
I want to write my constitution and be perfected.
I want justification to mean immediate sanctification.
Looking at another’s life, I feel that sanctification comes naturally, quickly.
“Only in hindsight do we feel the onward rush of progress and think of it as inevitable and unstoppable. In the moment, it looks like something else indeed.”
Maybe it’s only in hindsight that the fight loses its pain, that the struggle seems easy. But I’ll keep my eye on the Preamble–and the promised end.
I shared it with my classmate, and I’ll remind myself again:
“O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Don’t forget to take a look at Barbara H’s meme “The Week in Words”, where bloggers collect quotes they’ve read throughout the week.