Those who criticize America are accused of hating her, but that is wrong-we only criticize what we care about.
For example, if a stranger in a bar makes unwanted sexual advances toward a waitress I will disapprove. If my son did the same thing, I would cloud up and unleash a thunderstorm all over him. Because I don’t care much about the stranger, but I love my son. I not only love my son, his behavior reflects on my self and I expect him to behave better than that.
America can behave better than she has and her behavior reflects on our selves. Let us be honest about her failings and correct them, rather than enabling further misconduct with chants of “We’re Number One,” while waving our little flags with the “Made in China” labels.
So is America the shining city on a hill? The Indispensable Nation? God’s chosen instrument to fix the world? No. It is not the Promised Land. If it were dispensed with the world would keep right on turning. We are not God’s favorite children chosen to bring truth and justice (and the American Way) to all mankind.
And yet America is great. What is America? A big chunk of real estate stretching from sea to shining sea? It is that, and more. Rocky coastlines, mighty rivers, towering mountains, fertile plains, forbidding deserts-America has it all in abundance. It is a beautiful, bountiful land. But it is more.
What is America? Is it the people, those tough survivors from other lands who insisted on living, damn it, though their countries of origin considered them to be mere surplus? “I’ll show you ‘surplus’!” was their reply. And boy, did they!-casting off centuries of class snobbery and noble titles, getting their hands dirty building a life for themselves and their families. America is its tough, feisty people, but it is more.
It is a dream; a good dream.The dream is that every person has value and deserves a chance to fulfill that value without some aristocrat’s foot on his neck. It is a dream that justice is attainable, that no man is above the law, whether high or low-and that goes for those who make and enforce the laws as well. There is no immunity for royal blood-because there is no such thing as royal blood.
We may forget how radical all of this was at the beginning. It is still viewed as radical in many parts of the world today. That’s the real American dream; not buying a house, not buying a car, not buying anything-at least not with money. The American dream is bought with courage and with perseverance against the continual tendency of aristocracy to rise above the law and plant its foot firmly on our neck, once again.
We have what is left of that American dream because our ancestors had courage and perseverance. Our children will have it if we have courage and persevere now.
The beautiful, beautiful land, the feisty, overcoming people and the good dream of justice. THAT’S what so great about America.