My neighbor is an African-American in the truest sense of the word because he and his wife immigrated from Ethiopia many years ago. Each time I talk to him I am struck by his love for America. He gave everything he had to get here so he could enjoy all the freedom that I was born with. I doubt that I will ever comprehend the depths of his patriotism because I never had to sacrifice as much as he did to achieve his dream. His story is a fresh reminder of what makes America great and why we should be thankful for the blessings of liberty and cognizant of the responsibilities that come with citizenship.
America is a grand experiment in humanity because it’s the only country without a national identity. Americans are from every corner of the planet. We’re a motley collection of races, customs, languages, creeds and traditions. We are the most diverse group of humans ever assembled in one country and diversity is inherently much more difficult to achieve than homogeneity. The tie that binds us together is our devotion to liberty for all. Prior to the founding of this country, nationalism had been the driving force of humanity and hatred for those who did not look like us or talk like us was rampant. The history of the world is one of fear, bigotry and suffering at the hands of our perceived enemies. America changed all of that. Nationalities, who had fought for hundreds of years, came to America and set aside their differences in order to gain their freedom from oppression.
The Founding Fathers crafted a Constitution that insured the rights of individuals would never be usurped by government. The world has never been the same since our Constitutional Republic was founded and now most countries have some kind of rules to abide by. Even the most despotic nations have some form of representation even if it’s powerless. Tyranny has been dying a very slow death since 1776 and it will not go away quietly. For 241 years America has stood up to tyranny by asking people from all over the world to join our cause, the emancipation of humanity.
We even had to admit our failings when it came to slavery and a lot of good men died to make amends for that sin. When the founders wrote about a more perfect union they readily admitted that what we had was not perfect and it never would be but that just means we have to constantly try harder to make it better. Freedom isn’t a destination, it’s a journey of fulfillment. Every day we are asked to work for the common good and every day we struggle against our innate human weaknesses. None of us is perfect and so we have an imperfect world where our prejudices divide us and keep us from finding the common ground of the common good. Tyranny will only win if we stop trying. It’s the effort we make that insures our freedom, not the words in the Constitution.
Every day of our lives as Americans we are asked to contribute to our country. Some of us give all we have, like my neighbor, but all of us have to give something. When I leave the house each day to work with foster kids, I don’t ask people who they voted for or what party they belong to or what nationality they are. I honestly don’t care if they share the exact same traits as I do. All I want to know is how I can help them. My mission is simple, find someone who needs help and take care of them, no questions asked. That’s real freedom. I am making a conscious decision to exercise my freedom to choose and I am acting on my beliefs. No one is telling me what to do or how to do it. I will never be more free than that.
Freedom is essential to the future of mankind and this planet. We are never going to totally agree with every last thing our government decides. Even when our beliefs don’t line up with new legislation that doesn’t mean we stop trying to help each other. If we become dependent on government for all of our needs then we will be right back where we started from with just a modern form of tyranny. It’s up to us, not Washington, to keep America great. In fact, the more we do for each other, the less power the politicians will have over us. That’s the great thing about individual freedom, it removes the possibility of tyranny but only if we accept the responsibility that is required. The tie that binds us together should be the love of freedom, not the absence of tyranny.
What makes America the strongest country on Earth is our differences and our ability to work around them. We may never see the end of prejudice but we must find ways to accept one another as we are. I know I’m not perfect and therefore I have no right to judge others. My only expectation for others is this simple request, “Please accept me as I am and I will do the same for you. Then let’s work together to make this life better for both of us.” If we all resolve to act accordingly, we will have more freedom than we have ever known.
©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.