The Wonderful World of Wanzie: I can’t really celebrate an America I no longer recognize

I found it incredibly difficult to muster up any feeling of pride in being an American or to celebrate Independence Day this year.

And make no mistake about it, I love celebrating holidays and I have long been fiercely patriotic, but how does one celebrate the birth of our democracy during the precise moment that it is crumbling right before our very eyes?

It is difficult to celebrate our independence from monarchy rule in favor of a newly inspired government intended to be “for the people and by the people” at this time in history when that very system of government is totally failing us. It is hard to maintain hope when one can no longer have faith that our Supreme Court can be counted upon to arrive at decisions based on the constitutionality of any matter before them when it has become crystal clear that the court has been stacked by hostile means with jurists who lied to become confirmed and who are acting as the armature of the religious right and not as defenders of the Constitution.

Other than in times of mourning the actual deaths of people I deeply loved, I have never been so profoundly sad in all my life than I am right at this moment while typing this column. And never have I been so devoid of an opinion as to what course of action should be taken.

I feel lost.

I am depressed beyond words.

It is with tremendous trepidation that I dare write on the subject because to do so is to truly allow myself to accept more fully the unacceptable, and as I write I am overcome with the feeling that no one may even continue to read this. That you may very well have turned the page by now not wanting to read or contemplate the truthfulness of the appalling dangerous time in which we now find ourselves living in this country, whose government is no longer functioning in any way that remotely reflects the intent proclaimed by our Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of The United States of America and in our Bill of Rights.

Granted, even the Constitution had its imperfections from the start and thus it has evolved. It has been amended, as we the people have evolved to recognize that those now cherished words, “we the people” actually did and does mean “all the people” regardless of skin color, sex, sexual orientation, religious persuasion or lack thereof. We have always been a nation in a constant state of becoming and it has always been a struggle moving forward. Our progress has been slow by some standards and at certain times swiftly moving, but moving forward has been the hallmark of our very heritage. Regardless of how hard fought or long incoming some of those gains have been, it is indeed our continued surge toward creating a more perfect union that has made America the envy of the world.

That is until now.

As a body politic, our American system of government has not only been hijacked by radicals intent on establishing autocratic rule, but it has applied the brakes to criminally manipulate this system of government’s intent and as such, it has performed a brisk about-face and is now marching decidedly and deliberately backward, as for the very first time in the history of our young nation the highest court in the land is stripping citizens of rights as opposed to expanding them.

This, my friends, is not the America in which I grew up. This is not the direction in which any democracy should be moving, or should I say digressing. And if you are not sickened by what is occurring at this moment before your very eyes, if you are not angry or frightened, then you are simply not paying attention, you are an imbecile or you are a willing participant in the demise of the great American Experiment.

Make no mistake about it, I do not mean to imply that you may be proactively participating in the honest to gawd ongoing attempted toppling of our democracy through any type of direct action, but rather that by your inaction, by your complacency, you will be contributing to the loss of the America that had its beginnings when our forefathers declared our independence from the English commonwealth and eventually drafted the Constitution upon which the country of which I was once proud was founded.

It’s true that I said at the onset of this column that I could not bring myself to celebrate the America in which I now find myself living, but I can celebrate the ideal upon which America was birthed. Our country is adrift at the moment. It is under siege by militant forces that have risen up from within our own communities. Sad, misguided rebels for the wrong cause who have been lied to and manipulated by truly evil people.

I am not about to attempt to tell anyone exactly what they need to be doing at this point in time because I myself have yet to figure that out, I’m ashamed to admit. And I won’t pretend for a moment that it is not extremely difficult to feel like everything I have done or accomplished as an activist up to this point has been done for nothing but I know I have to rise above those debilitating feelings of having no empowerment. We must rise above it. I know that in the long term we must all vote and we must get everyone of good conscience who we know who that can vote motivated to do so.

In the short term, I’m at a loss. I really am. But I do know this: we can’t put our heads in the sand. Anger is what we all must feel and then we need to come to terms with the anger and direct that energy to positive means whatever that may end up being. But we have to face this. We have to talk about it. We need to read, and listen, and engage and together we will — we MUST — rise up against this attempted hostile takeover of our country or there will soon cease to be any occasion or any reason to ever again celebrate America.

Michael Wanzie is an Orlando-based playwright, actor and ordained minister, recognized for his direction of productions in the Orlando area.

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