America is Great

America is the greatest nation, but humble and strong enough to admit her flaws, and the need to continue working to improve life for its citizens and ensuring peace in the world.  That’s my view of America.

“The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great.” -Meghan McCain

America is powerful and rich, but that is not what makes for American greatness. America’s strength and true success lies in our ideals and values.  American ideals have always been great; some of our interpretations and actions not so much. Not everything in our history, or even our current times, are prideful moments.

I am not bothered by protests at football games. The protests are a wake up to some our own weaknesses, not an act of disrespect to our nation. America is strong and can deal with the truth, even if some cannot.

What bothers me is the growing divide in America, and inability to listen to each other and figure out how to pull in the same direction.  The America I know can deal with criticisms, in fact, the freedom of speech and protections against improper government action, support the notion that we are a nation that respects the individual and is strong enough to constructively deal with our differences.

lincolnhousedivided

Our greatest strengths are sometimes what give us our biggest challenges. Freedom of speech results in hearing things that we do not agree with and tests our resolve.  Our freedom to bear arms has created a culture that is strongly divided on how broadly that right should be interpreted.  Our economic freedom has produced a drive for profit that suffocates the reality of capitalism, as the gap widens between the richest and everyone else. The desire for profit has put the health of the environment at risk, as well as our very lives. Without the Earth, there is no life.  On the subject of healthcare, we’ll, all bets are off.  Profiteering is somehow legal. What a mess.

To speak of doing more for basic human needs: health, education, housing, food; draws fiery complaints of socialism, or laughably, communism. As a nation built on principles of compassion and love, we frequently move to condemnation and hatred.  We are also a nation of contradictions, particularly between the individual and the collective good.

Once upon a time, we broke away from a country where centralized power was oppressive, where freedom to worship was restricted, where wealth was concentrated in a small, powerful minority, where poverty was a crime, and the chance for greater opportunity existed elsewhere.  There was a king, and our forefathers said, no more.  We do not want a monarchy, a dictator or aristocracy. Tyrants do not apply.

Greatness is not a destination, it’s a long journey. Greatness is not your bank account or your social standing. Greatness is not praying one thing on Sunday and behaving differently the other six days. Greatness is not turning your back on those the nation has helped for more than two centuries. Greatness is not white supremacy or discrimination of any kind. Greatness is not divisiveness. Greatness is the opposite of small mindedness.

Greatness is not a slogan on a hat, it is within your heart and at the foundation of your actions.

Don’t confuse greatness with perfection. America has many problems. Our sovereignty is under threat from outside and perhaps from inside. We have many divisions with few successful strategies to bridge these polarized views. If you don’t like things, leave; or at least get over it. Those are the comments by some who do not want civil dialogue or meaningful engagement. Greatness, like anything else of value, takes hard, honest work, and giving in to something bigger than ourselves.

America was great long before I took my first breath and will be great long after my last one. American greatness doesn’t depend on any of us, but it needs all of us.

Maybe we can make America greater. I certainly hope so.


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