We have come to the point of time in our history where each citizen of the United States must answer for themselves what it means to them if they say, “I am an America.”
The contention between citizens, neighbors, friends, and family members has arisen to a fever pitch. This degree of contention seems to be similar to that of only one other time in our history, and that was the Civil War period. Accusations and threats were rampant. The ability to find a common goal no longer existed. The goals of the different sides were complete opposite of each other. One side said that the Union should remain while the other side they must depart from the Union and form their own government. The side who favored remaining a Union did insist that all within the Union must be free individuals and the ownership of one human by another must end. The side that was willing to end the Union stated that the ownership of one human by another was legal and important and must remain. A very catastrophic and devastating war took place and today we have one Union with ownership of other humans outlawed. Many people would like to relive that troubled time by continuing to punish reputations of the now deceased and any who might want to preserve the legitimate history of that troubled time so we can learn the danger of having two completely opposite goals for the same union.
The contentions between the two opposite sides today are also radically different if not completely opposite as in the days of the civil war. What it means to be an American has assumed completely different meanings for citizens of this country. Because of these differences, once again the very fabric that has held this Union together seems to be on the verge of tearing apart. The result would be disastrous and devastating.
Each of us must ask ourselves what it means to us to be an American. Each of us must move beyond the bumper sticker and 30 second sound bite mentality and delve into serious study and reflection on this question. We must move beyond our comfort zones and learn what is at the heart of the beliefs of those with whom we disagree. We must then define what we mean when we say, “I am an American.” Our founders told us that one of the critical factors of being an American is to put the good of the country above partisan politics. This is difficult to do but is an essential element if the Union is to prevail.
I have taken this charge of understanding what I mean when I say, “I am an American” very seriously throughout my adult life. In my youth, my beliefs were determined by those who had the most influence on me. As I grew older, I started to question all beliefs and determined it was critical that I explore all thoughts and ideas to determine what core beliefs I would have and why I believed they were best. This set me on a course of study which became a dedicated effort to understand why people with whom I strongly disagreed believed the way they believed.
In this quest to learn and understand, I am now able to state with greater clarity what I mean when I say, “I am an American.”
I am an American because I believe it is America that was built on my belief that a nation is a stronger and better nation because of the individuals that live in that nation and not government. The differences of the individuals are what makes the strongest bond in the fabric that holds together the nation and promotes growth and strength of that nation. Liberty is the most critical freedom that can be preserved and promoted; liberty of each individual to achieve, to dream, to promote, to fail, to try again, and to think for themselves. With liberty comes individual responsibility. For liberty, each individual must be responsible for the consequences of their own decisions, be they positive or negative. As an American I am a believer in individual liberty.
I believe that the liberties provided in our First Amendment are the very core of what I mean when I say, “I am an American.” The principle of freedom of religion and not freedom from religion has been at the very core of our greatness. Only in the last several years has this been defined as freedom from religion. Freedom of speech is a cornerstone of any free nation. Any curtailment of speech, yes even so-called hate speech, is a restriction on the rights of the individual and a requirement to conform to a government dictate. This is the antithesis of American.
What I mean when I say, “I am an American,” I am saying that I belief that freedom comes when the rights of the individual are protected over the dictates of government. As an American, I understand, as did our founders, that government is the single biggest threat to my freedom. When government has assumed the role of telling me how to live my life and what to think, when, where and how I can worship God, that my property is rightfully the property of the government and they will tell me what I can keep, how I am to speak and think, and what I can read or hear, I am no longer living in a free nation but am now living under the tyranny of government. For me, to be an American, means to be free from the tyranny and dictates of government and to be able to have my own beliefs, make my own choices, be responsible for the consequences of my choices, and to proclaim to the whole world what I mean when I say, “I am an American.”
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.