Only through a public reckoning with our terminology can we get to the truth of the United States, which is that we are a nation of homes, not a homeland. Homeland today is a loaded phrase, empty of content while laced with sentimentality and bigotry. Instead, let us reclaim from the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal," the foundation of Dr. King’s Beloved Community. There is no Department of Homeland Security in the Beloved Community. Instead, our security strengthens or weakens only as a measure of our communality.
America today is replete with forces that simultaneously bring people together and tear them apart. Community organizers and activists can and should be “norm entrepreneurs” who connect disparate people with one another based on values and interests – people who otherwise feel helpless and “the only voice in the wind,” as one woman recently wrote to me. The alternative is to submit to the centrifugal forces of dislocation, violence, and susceptibility to scapegoat-seeking and demagoguery that is the result in the breakdown of democracy.