Posted by: bkivey | 4 July 2012

Birth Of A Nation

236 years ago today a new nation was conceived. Between then and now,  a few colonies would become a civilization that has afforded more opportunity to more people than any other society in human history. Period. Americans have pushed back frontiers in every field of human endeavor, and used that knowledge, not to conquer territory and oppress the hapless, but to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, and stand as a living shield between the forces of oppression and free people.

We have regularly sent the cream of our youth to fight and die in foreign lands, for no other reason than to stem the tide of tyranny. Let there be a disaster anywhere on the globe, and we will send fleets of ships and aircraft loaded with metric tons of supplies to ease the afflicted. For this we ask neither tribute nor land.

We have flung our machines to the farthest reaches of the solar system and beyond. Six American flags stand alone on the moon, yet we claim not the territory. Even now, private concerns raise up their eyes and reach up their hands to the heavens. The ones who are  making this work, or likely to, are all American.

Like all human endeavors, the American story is not one of unblemished success. We have bought and sold human beings, and oppressed those who didn’t fit the societal mores of the time. We have entered into alliances of convenience, even when those associations betrayed our values. We have embraced those inimical to us, and betrayed friends. Our society, in short, has acted human.

And that ‘s the greatness of the American experiment. Not in our technological prowess or worldly trappings, but that our society is a result of the collective will, rather than forced on us by the rule of the few or the one. While we as a people may at times lurch toward the one extreme or the other, our faith in our ideals has kept us in balance. As we take pride in our accomplishments, so too should we take responsibility for our shortcomings.

Everyone fortunate enough to be a citizen should be proud to be an American. It’s reasonable to work to improve the society, but to define this country by its shortcomings demonstrates a lack of appreciation and smallness of spirit that is unbecoming of an American. Millions of people have given up everything and risked their lives for nothing more than a chance to live here, with no guarantee of success. Millions more would like to. One need look no further than the Declaration of Independence to see the reasons why:

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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Happy Birthday, America!



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