Friday, July 2, 2010

The Work Never Ends

Our culture is big on goal setting. We strive towards that goal thinking if only, if only and when I get there it will all be different.  Then I won't have to work so hard at it anymore when the real truth is arriving at the goal is just the beginning.

I started the process of reinventing my life two years ago. I lived in the delusion for quite a while that eventually I would arrive at a reinvented life as if it were my stop on the subway. I would be home. But as it turns out, reinvention is a work in progress and if I do it right, will continually be so.  I will tweak it and add to it and continue to make it better for tomorrow than it is today.

The same is true of independence. This weekend we celebrate our country's birthday. In 1776 the United States officially separated all ties from what was considered the tyranny of England. Accompanying that was a document known as the Declaration of Independence. One of the most famous quotes from that paper is the following:

"We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among them are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

A powerful statement at that time and one that has served as the foundation for the freedoms we have today.

Except that Declaration was not the end goal. It was just the beginning. The document  was written by the committee of five who happened to be all white men. It did not include those new found freedoms for women nor for men who were not white. Declaring this country's independence was not the end but the beginning.

This photo was on the front page of The New York Times yesterday.

I was struck by the circle of faces surrounding Elena Kagan, all white men, grilling her with questions based on their concerns that she may be hiding some deep dark secret that might make her unfit for the bench and undermine their freedoms.  In response to Senator Tom Coburn's  "absolute fear" that Americans are less free than they were 30 years ago Senator Amy Klobuchar offered this response. "Were we really more free if you were a woman in 1980?"

The answer is no.  Freedom is another of those things that is not a destination, but a journey. It has been 234 years since the beginning of the concept of freedom in this country. We've fixed that part about "all men" to include all people, but we are still on the journey.  And on this July 4, 2010 we are still evolving. If Elena Kagan is confirmed she will be only the 4th women to serve on the Supreme Court in a two hundred plus year history. No woman has yet to hold the highest office in this nation.

So yes, there is still tweaking to do. More to add. The process continues, the goals arrived at become sign posts along the way. But the work never ends. Not for reinvention. Not for freedom.


Colette Martin said...

Joanna, great points! I think we are in complete agreement on this sentiment.

Unknown said...

You and I think alike often!