On the thirty-first anniversary of the violent end of the peaceful Tiananmen Square protests––ended by an authoritarian state ordering its military to attack and kill protesters––the United States is in the midst of a conflagration of its own. Our company, small though we are, feels the need to speak out at this time and make clear that we stand with those protesting police brutality and the disproportionate and often lethal force faced by Americans of color, particularly black Americans, from those sworn to protect and defend them. On top of this ongoing tragedy, the response by our national government threatens to undermine the very basis on which we continue as a single nation.
In general, a small business like ours would not speak out about an issue related to civil rights, not because we individually doubt the need for change, but because it is not the purpose for which we organized ourselves or the work in which we engage on a daily basis. These are not normal times, however. It is now incumbent on all to stand up and clearly state that those currently in charge in this experiment of a nation are not even trying to live up to the ideals contained in our founding documents. Abraham Lincoln, who prosecuted one of the modern world’s most terrible wars against insurrection, recognized that blood spilled to uphold the fact of the Union must also uphold the principles on which this country was founded. As Americans, we have failed to live up to those principles over and over again but we have agreed on the direction that represents progress; national leaders in this country have, for the most part, consistently charted a course toward the North Star of the “more perfect union” President Lincoln described at Gettysburg.
Not so today. Too many of our leaders do not recognize and appear not to understand the principles on which this nation was founded and on which it continues to exist. We cannot express it more concisely than President Lincoln himself did in the Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural Address: the battle is for the survival of a nation conceived in and dedicated to the principles of liberty and equality. The crisis we face now in the United States is deeper than a Constitutional crisis. This nation was formed in 1776 by a group of white men, and however flawed their premises about who belonged and who should hold power, they met to forge a nation and fight the colonizing power as a single country. In the Declaration of Independence they stated principles of government that were unique in the world then and those principles are the foundation on which the U.S. Constitution and our entire system of government and law rests. The crisis we face now is a crisis of our very independence as a nation founded on the principle that all are created equal.
The light at the end of the tunnel is that many more people than not recognize this as the critical moment and still can speak out against the lethal incompetence and ego-maniacal authoritarianism currently leading this nation. We pray that it will be enough to lead to a peaceful transition of power; condemn those who have stood idly by when they could have acted; and stand with the protesters in the streets of our nation. We sincerely hope that better days are ahead but that makes it incumbent on all of us to speak out, act to support others of goodwill, and vote in November elections at every level of government for those who understand and will pursue the common purpose of this country.