Dear My African Son,
When Hannah went to Africa a few years ago, I prayed God would send people into her path to watch over her there. You were one of several people who were an answer to that prayer. Little did I know at that time I would soon get to return the favor when you arrived in the US just 20 minutes from our home for your own study abroad. And now several years later you are back, this time in Indiana for graduate school. And what lessons you are learning to come to the US during a presidential election. Your political science studies are getting an up close look at our political process.
I want to tell you that what you are witnessing isn’t the way it used to be. That isn’t to say that we have always been unified in our opinions about how to govern, far from it. From the very beginning, if you read our history, you will see we are a people who are passionate and have a penchant for rousing debate. Our founding fathers wrote free speech into the foundation of our country and we exercise that right daily here. It is not free speech that is the issue…no, that is alive and well and sometimes it is as much a frustration as it is a freedom, yet is a cornerstone on which our system is built. This election is no different in that respect; candidates say what they feel the people want to hear no matter what it is or whom it offends.
What is different is the frenzy of name-calling and the lows to which the candidates are stooping. In the past, the arguments, while loud and full of emotion, were respectful. There was decency and those running for office steered clear of middle school crudities and blatant disrespect for others. The discussions were heated, but concern for the welfare of the people was at the forefront. While the candidates disagreed on the best course of action, they were unified in their love for the people and their desire to rule well. After the election, no matter who won, the country stood behind the president, even if they disagreed with him. There was a respect for the office and a desire to be united as our name declares.
Faith, another foundation of our country, wasn’t used as a political chip in which to buy votes. It was understood we were ‘one nation, under God’ and that our laws were based on the Ten Commandments. Prayer was assumed to be a life force wherever it was practiced, and it was practiced most everywhere. Candidates didn’t use religion for political purposes. And even though we became a melting pot of all races, religions and full of diversity, our foundation was known to be based on an underlying belief in a power greater than ourselves. We relied on the ability of God to direct our steps as a nation, rather than our current path of governance by our human guidance alone.
In recent years, we have abandoned our previous ways. Social media has emboldened people of all backgrounds to ugliness. Like the days of the Roman Coliseum, people flock to be a part of a feeding frenzy, all without leaving the comfort of their homes. It is shameful and such a departure from what our nation was founded upon. We are divided, where we used to come together. We are hateful, where we used to care for one another. We have been known for our compassion, where now we are gaining a reputation for drama and bickering.
I feel the need to apologize for the three-ring circus this election has become, and to assure you that things didn’t used to be this way. My hope for you is that you will watch carefully…that you will learn the lessons that our election teaches about the past and about the future. And when you return to Ghana you will share how to avoid this kind of a mess with your countrymen.
Your American Mama