Keeping America “GREAT!”
The reasons for this greatness are embedded in our Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Of course these sentences are open to many interpretations, but one can gather that our founding fathers believed that God equipped each of us with unchangeable rights–rights that no one can take away from us, that no citizen is more equal than another, and there must be justice for all. How can we achieve that in the world we live in today–a world filled with fear, poverty, anger, blame, corruption and hate? The answer: “Start with yourself!”
Ask questions like “What does it mean to love my neighbor as myself?” Listen for an answer. You may find a simple answer like “Try walking mentally in your neighbor’s shoes.” When you sit down with your white friend, neighbor or any white person you are in a conversation with, ask him/her what it really means to live a life as a white person in America? Do you believe you have privileges a person of color does not have? Do you believe you are better than a person of color? What do you think I have taken from you because I am black? Do you believe most black people are lazy and do not want to work? If so, why? What would you like to see happen to all people of color in America? Do you believe America is free of racism?
If you are white and sit down with your neighbor of color, ask him what it means to live as a black, brown, woman, native American or LBGT person in America? What are some of the prejudices he/she has lived with, his parents lived with and are still faced with? Why does he believe all white people feel they are better than people of color? Why does he believe “being white” makes life easier than life as a person of color? Why do you always say criticism of you is based on racism? Why do you believe you helped make America what it is today when it was the white man that came over and have basically moved America forward? These are tough questions, but they demand honest answers!
If you seek these answers with cynicism, dishonesty or selfish motives, you will not get the results that will make you grow, but . . . I say, start the process, listen and try to understand . . . try to see yourself doing the things or having the things done to you the person describes, and you will walk away with a better understanding that you started with. Doing nothing or saying nothing, gets you nothing!
Another important principle to place at the forefront of your mind is “Thou shall have no other God before me!” Seeking greater understanding of that Commandment, opens the door to empathy, kindness, humility and a respect for other people. Why? Because you realize that placing wealth, poverty, racism, re-verse racism, anger, bitterness or deep-seated, unhealed pain, means you are giving God a back-seat in your thoughts and problem-solving abilities, and . . . you are doomed to failure.
The “things” that make America great, are the people who live in America. Our greatness comes from how we view the least of those in society, the kindness and respect we share with one another, the willingness to keep examining what we think, say and do, and the value we place in living or exposing the truth we keep secret from everyone else. If the truth we hold in our hearts is too shameful to share, do something to change it! If the hate, anger and bigotry spewed from our hearts and mouths cause others to do the same to us, let’s change what we are thinking and doing! Evil begets evil–good begets good!
I love America! It is the greatest place to live on earth, and I believe you feel the same way, no matter who you are or where you came from. Let’s find our commonalities, and that will help us unravel our differences.
As we watch the transition of one administration to another, let us honor and hold true to the principles this country was founded on: love for God,country and equality, impartiality and justice for all . . . irrespective of race, color, religion and gender. When “telling a lie” seeks to become “the norm,” let us rise up spiritually and practically to denounce it in the strongest terms. When “trashing” the next guy seems to indicate power, let us replace it with divine power, and when human wealth glitters like gold, let it fail to tarnish us with dishonesty, lack of integrity and “business as usual.”
Everyone of us must take a stand to keep our country great with the moral values that made us great. We grew as a nation because of those values, and will reach stagnation and wither away, without those values.