A shining city?

To the editor:

The waves of social unrest that we are witnessing may briefly subside, but they’re not going away; nor, should they. While some of us are endeavoring the inconvenience of staying afloat financially and psychologically, many others face a future filled only with disease, destruction, and despair.

Ronald Reagan frequently likened our nation to a shining city on a hill echoing the sentiments of the puritan Gov. John Winthrop. Winthrop argued that God would only bless our efforts if it’s citizens built a nation that advances the broader cause of the golden rule. If not, he argued, our nation would lose God’s blessing and become a thing to be pitied.

Americans periodically proclaim to the world that things are different here; that this is an exceptional nation. We are, they say, a nation populated by people dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal.

The founders waxed most eloquent about the great promise of a new land guaranteeing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to all; all, that is, except the slaves who produced much of the vast wealth enjoyed by the rich and inherited by their heirs which came also at the expense of the indigenous tribes whose land they effectively stole.

Privilege is a heady brew. Many born with the multiple overlapping blessings of favored gender, ethnicity, geography, and financial resources just can’t seem to understand how the absence of such blessings effectively disadvantages others.

The fruits of privilege produce a form of amnesia and an absence of concern for the wellbeing of others outside of ones’ privileged group.

It appears that those who’ve been historically and habitually disenfranchised are tiring of these arrangements. A person with nothing to gain has little to lose.

I recently read that millions of American kids need to go to school every day so that they can get enough food to survive. Surely that’s not what Winthrop had in mind. Surely that’s not evidence of “a shining city on a hill.”

Meanwhile, our overlords fret that life-saving unemployment enhancements will disincentivize low wage workers. Who’ll do the dirty work if all the slaves run free?

So, COVID or not, you better get your behind back to work or your kids will starve and you’ll be out in the street. That’s the latest from the shining city on the hill. Good luck with that.

Editor’s note: We accidentally reran a previous letter from Mr. Kennedy recently. This is the letter he wanted for us to run this month.


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