What Do You Mean America Is Not Great?
Everywhere you look there are signs and commercials saying it, politicians use it as a rallying cry. Make America great again. I cannot help but think, am I missing something? America is already great. Why can't my fellow Americans see and recognize this? Then it comes to me, some of the very things that make America great are being mischaracterized as reasons why America isn't as great as it used to be. Liberty and opportunity are being portrayed as zero sum games, meaning people feel that if someone else gets some they must be losing some in return. They will proclaim in economics that a rising tide lifts all boats, while not understanding that this is much more true in freedom than it is in money.
Equal Protection Under the Law
America is great because it is a place that strives for equality for its people. We have been making strides to ensure that your race, religion and sexuality do not keep you from enjoying the same freedoms and opportunities as everyone else. It is a place where a Muslim and a Christian work and live under the same rules. It is a place where someone's ability to get and keep a job is not affected by whether they have a girlfriend or a boyfriend. It is a place where the pursuit of happiness is recognized as a right, and you are allowed to live your life as you see fit as long as you are not hurting someone else. Many Americans however seem to feel that they are somehow being hurt by allowing to let someone live a life that they would not choose for themselves. They think that if someone is allowed to be Muslim that somehow detracts from their being a Christian, or if gays are getting married that in some way injures their heterosexual marriage. How this makes sense is not clear to me, but many people genuinely feel this way. They want people to be free to live their lives, as long as everyone lives the way they do. That is not making America great, that is making America oppressive.
Give Me Your Tired, Your Hungry...
America is a place that people can come to and both contribute and do better for themselves. It has always been a nation of immigrants. People come here from other places and give their energy and intelligence to help us in our efforts to excel as a nation. We have been a welcoming refuge for those seeking asylum from war and persecution. We have been a place of opportunity for those who have lived under poverty and discrimination. We have been the shining light on the hill for the world, an example of tolerance and compassion. At least those are the ideals that we have been steadily working toward. But now we are told that foreigners are coming to steal all our jobs. That they want to turn this country into a third world nation like the ones they came here to escape. And I ask, how does this even make sense? If they didn't like where they came from why would they try to make their new home just like it? And if your job is in serious jeopardy because someone who doesn't speak English comes over and works harder than you, perhaps you should be doing a better job. The Statue of Liberty, the symbol of American hope and welcome, may soon be offset by a wall shutting everyone out and ourselves in.
The Peaceful Transition of Power
Every four years I hear that one of the things that makes this country great and unique is the peaceful transition of power. When we change governments, no bullets fly. We vote and then the winner assumes office. No destruction or mayhem ensues. The will of the people in enacted without the need for bloodshed. In recent years talk has been growing though, about fraud and rigged elections. Now it has come to the point where major candidates are stating before the fact that elections are rigged and that they might not accept the outcome. Prematurely as it turns out, I notice that when the most vocal proponent of the elections being rigged won, he was not calling out for investigations into possible voter fraud. His supporters had been quoted as saying there would be blood in the streets and that they would take up arms if their candidate did not win. This is against the very principles this country was founded on. What makes them think that anyone who lives in this country would actively be out to destroy it? I ask again, how does this make sense. People are going to disagree on the best way to move forward, but we should recognize that everyone wants to move forward. No one wants to destroy the way of life which they enjoy. That is nonsensical.
In this country even our people living in poverty have a better standard of living than many people around the world. This is something that makes me very proud. That's not to say we couldn't do better, we should always strive to be better. But is is a sign that we are moving in the right direction. There are so many ways for those who need help to get it. But somehow this fact which makes me proud of our country is seen by many as a sign of its weakness rather than one of its strengths. They seem to think that the poor should be living in squalor and hunger. Somehow they seem to think that having hungry children shows that we are a more righteous nation. They are outraged that people who are poor might actually enjoy a few modern conveniences. They seem to think that if you are not the best and the brightest, you do not deserve to have a life that has comfort, enjoyment, or even dignity. Not everyone who is poor is that way because they are lazy or stupid. And even lazy people have children who deserve to eat, especially in a country that produces more food than we need to feed everyone in the country.
Compassion And Empathy
Looking back over these points it becomes clear that your view as to whether the country is great or not really depends on how you approach other people. Do have employ compassion and empathy when dealing with others, or are you only concerned with getting as much as you can for yourself, or those who are just like you, and to hell with everyone else? Do you feel that someone who looks different or has a different belief system is less worthy of a chance at a happy and fulfilling life? Do you really believe that there is only so much happiness and opportunity to go around? Can you not see that if we welcome people and encourage them to participate in our culture, and in our economy, that both become richer, thereby enriching not only them but us as well? My country is great now, but we are in real danger of losing that greatness, ironically by the hand of people claiming they are trying to make it great again. How about you join the rest of us in our struggle to make a great country greater instead?