It is not often I check statistics for my blog but when WordPress notifies about higher than normal traffic on pbmGarden I become curious. Yesterday the stats led me back in time to late June 2012 and a visit to Colonial Williamsburg with my husband. I guess someone had come across the post and looked through images of a beautiful vegetable garden we had seen there.
The last image in that article features an emblem embedded in the sidewalk at the Visitor’s Center. Viewed as one is about to enter the 18th century-based historic area one is invited to, “Walk Back In Time.”
As one returns to the visitor center from the historic area the message reads, “You Have Returned To The 21st Century. Democracy. A Work in Progress.”
Wow, did that ever strike me. While in 2012 probably I just included the emblem because it seemed clever or quaint or a good way to end my post, now in 2021 with America’s democracy in tatters, it seems an opportune reminder America’s democracy has always been fragile and requires vigilance.
While naively I had always expected America would constantly refine, clarify and improve our democracy to embody equality and justice, the past five years in particular have shown how backwards and muddled that democracy could actually become. When in plain sight of the world GOP leaders try to walk back events of January 6, whitewashing away the violence and intent, and throngs of Americans still support them, I am frightened. When the Supreme Court winks at blatant attempts to undermine voting rights, I despair. When vaccines are available here and many Americans refuse to do their part, I struggle. When education is already under attack and the trustees of my alma mater, UNC Chapel Hill, politicize the recommendation of tenure for a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and UNC graduate, I am sad. (This last item at least took a positive turn when under pressure tenure was eventually approved, though the underlying issues remain.)
As the nation celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence with fireworks in drought-stricken areas and beach vacations along coastlines under stress from climate change, the willful ignorance of many in this country leads me completely baffled. I do not pretend to have answers but I recognize a day of Facebook feeds filled with flag pictures will not be enough to unite us.
So while I normally prefer to stick to gardening in this blog, seeing that phrase yesterday “Democracy. A Work in Progress” gave me pause and compelled me to speak. America is full of decency and I hope it will prevail. But when a rich person, a private donor from Tennessee, can effect the deployment of a National Guard unit from South Dakota to yet another state, the border of Texas, I wonder if decency and democracy itself can survive. Power, influence, money plus a strangely-aligned segment of American politicians and public willing to suspend truth and reality, these elements threaten this country’s core.
In Colonial America unrest led to independence and the founding of this country and our journey since has not been a straight line. I hope the current-day unrest will not pull us further backward, but instead will lead to progress and fairness. Meanwhile it’s okay to eat that hot dog and fly the flag 🇺🇸. America is a large idea.
The 2012 post that got me thinking today reflects none of the controversy of the times, neither the eighteenth century nor now. See for yourself, the colonial garden in Williamsburg was sheer delight.