Toward A More Perfect Union
The notion of America becoming a more perfect union is a fascinating idea. It is self-reflective and humble. It recognizes our nation’s basic good qualities, while also acknowledging that our past actions are not always ideal. We believe it is an attitude and perspective that can serve us well in this moment.
Some of the readers here will know us. We grew up and knew each other at a young age, graduating from Frewsburg High School in 2006. Still, we have taken different paths over time and often see the world from differing perspectives. One of us went on to the military and then moved to Boston and Buffalo, and eventually back to Jamestown to own and operate Pace’s Pizzeria. The other joined the Peace Corps and then moved to New Jersey to pursue education policy research. Even as we have taken different paths and have some obvious differing views on politics and the world in general, we have a similar belief in America’s possibility to form a more perfect union.
We both believe that our local and national communities need to take time to be self-reflective. It is not controversial to say that we have all been through a lot in recent years. With bitter and acrimonious politics. An insidious virus that has been a plague on the health of our bodies, businesses, and community life. And sadly, vitriol and mistrust have been placed between friends, family, and neighbors, often based on the momentary passions of politics and opinion. Like many of you reading this, we have some disagreement between us about the meaning and direction of recent years. Still, we do hope that the coming months deliver something we can collectively enjoy and appreciate. A better reality for our community’s health as a whole, as vaccines offer us a way out of pandemic restrictions, but also better years for the way we interact with each other. Admittedly, we too are as guilty as many in allowing the passions of our perspective to at times override our feeling of kinship. For this, we apologize and recognize the need to be self-reflective. We believe that we all should aim to put aside the vitriol. We should be of the belief that it is ok to have a slice of pizza or a beer with someone who has a differing perspective on the world. It is ok to disagree and not assume the worst in others’ motives or intentions. Ultimately, there are moments when forgiving our neighbors and turning the other cheek are advisable, and we believe that this is such a moment for America. We implore our friends and neighbors to be joyful about life and remember that the short years we have together should be spent with love and kinship, not with division and skepticism of each other’s motives.
From what we have observed in recent years, we believe that the root causes of the vitriol and mistrust within our communities are multiple and complex. Many are quick to judge but slow to listen. We all want to stand by our convictions, but few meaningfully examining their principles. We are typically unwilling to recognize the proverbial “standing army” entrenched across no man’s land, preventing anyone from making meaningful personal movement in beliefs and opinions. We tend to watch the news that supports our views and we follow the social media accounts belonging to folks in our tribe. Many examine the injustices of an opposing tribe, while ignoring the injustices of our own. All of these behaviors are very human and understandable, but they are also collectively a destructive force within our democratic discourses.
Our democratic republic has always been and will continue to be a work in progress. There has never been a time in American history where we have been perfect and there will never be a time in the future. We must all understand that, at times, we will have to leave somethings on the table of compromise for the greater good of the country. As bad as things may seem at times, we are so very blessed to live in this great country and we remain optimistic about her future. Ultimately, we agree with the sentiment that we do not have a red and blue America. We do not have a conservative and liberal America. We have the United States of America. We have a country with interwoven with blue and red fibers and that combination is what creates the amazing fabric. We hope that we can all aim to understand and appreciate this fact. And that we can take this understanding and appreciation and push ourselves toward building a more perfect union. Whether as a nation as a whole or within our local communities. It is worth it. It is worth it to our children and grandchildren. It is worth it for the honor we carry within ourselves as patriotic Americans.
Joe Town and Mark Pelham are Frewsburg natives. Town lives in Jamestown while Pelham lives in New Jersey.