The America I love is a tolerant place. It’s a place where we see diversity all around us. We don’t worry about the race or religion or sexual preference of our neighbors. And we treat one another as fellow Americans – disagreeing from time to time about many things, but not being disagreeable.
The America I love has since the time of the founding fathers given up the last vestiges of inequality among us. In America today, we all get to vote. We are each entitled to our opinions and to give voice in public and private to those opinions. But the America I love is above all a place we can all be proud of, a place where no one goes hungry, no one goes without food, clothing, housing, education or medical care, and there are jobs for all. In the America I love there is a social safety net upon which we can all depend when from time to time things go wrong in the economy, or in our personal lives.
The America I love is the America that has been viewed by the world, since it’s inception, as an inspiration to all who seek peace and freedom. Ronald Reagan said it best:
“The United States remains the last best hope for a mankind plagued by tyranny and deprivation. America is no stronger than its people — and that means you and me.”
The America I love has since I was a child decades ago become something very different indeed. It has become a much more fearful and violent and much less hospitable place. The homeless wander the streets. Children and young adults in our inner cities, suburbs, and rural spaces alike are not getting the education they need to hold down jobs that pay a livable wage. Tens of millions of Americans still go without quality health care for lack of insurance. And tens of millions among our middle class have lost or are in the process of losing jobs, homes, pensions, and retirement savings.
Most devastating of all, the American middle class is beginning to truly lose hope. Hope in the future for themselves, and hope for the future of their children and grandchildren.
And why has all this happened? It has happened because of what we have become as a nation. We have slowly but surely over the last thirty years dismantled the social safety net, and neglected the least among us. The rich have gotten much richer and the rest of us have been lucky to break even. Multinational corporations in America today have been granted the same rights that we each have as individuals. And with billions to spend to influence politicians, and dupe us into believing in intellectually bankrupt ideologies and propaganda, Corporate America is making record profits, and the rest of us are stuck with nothing to show for the last 30 years of innovation and productivity but mountains of public and private debt.
And now the common concern seems to be about who to blame, and who to stick with the bill for the corporate greed, mismanagement, and outright fraud that has brought our economy to its knees. Many of our so-called political leaders are telling us we need to blame the victims — to punish the poor, and cut back on government programs that help the middle class — while at the same time lowering the taxes on the wealthiest among us, and making sure Corporate America continues to make its record profits. No, the America I love is not yet dead. But we are flirting dangerously close to moral and financial bankruptcy. No longer believing in our elected officials. No longer confident about the future. Believing in a “zero-sum” game in which the only way to get ahead is at the expense of others. I don’t buy it and you should not either.
Jesus of Nazareth taught to love one another as we love ourselves, and to take care of the poor. It is time we lived our faith in these United States and start acting again as the great and confident nation for which many generations of Americans have given and dedicated their lives. A nation of free people, with a government that serves the purpose described for it in the preamble of the US Constitution:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
We the People was supposed to mean all of us, not just the elites, not just the chosen few.