"Sister Salima, what is going on with America today? We always looked at America as a country of promise and of hope. A place where nothing goes wrong. Everything seemed to be so amazing here. America never had trouble, everything was good. What happened?"
Now I'm paraphrasing that but it helped me to stop and think about how the world views America. I know, as I've been told by friends from other nations, how much the world hates us. Alvaro and I talked about that and then he said,
"What's really interesting is that America has had to step into every war, clean it up and end it. And never, ever, did they start it."
And that is true, America didn't start World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf 1 or the war we find ourselves in now. Yes, I know that there are factions within our nation who want to blame every American for all the problems in the world today. I don't agree. I've taken a good long look at America and our history.
I've studied the Founding Fathers and what brought them to the point where they declared our independence from Britain, the writing of the greatest Constitution in the world, the Declaration of Independence and our Bill of Rights. Were they perfect? Heavens no, are you?
I've studied the growth of our nation through our most difficult times and through the greatest of times. Yes, we definitely face perilous times, but something Glenn Beck said a week or so ago really hit me hard:
So looking at the views of people outside the United States of America and looking at the views of those within, I've come to an inescapable conclusion. Freedom has bearing. Safety has bearing. Control of one's future has bearing. And these things shine through Americans and is often mistaken for arrogance. Believing that we have God-given rights is perceived as arrogant by those around the world because they have either abrogated those rights or had them ripped away. There is a physical bearing which comes from the knowledge that you are free and an American and it is nothing to be ashamed of . . . ever.
"As long as we look at ourselves and ask the question 'Who are we?' . . . Are we the country that is somehow or another mired in a war that cannot be won or are we the country of free men, that free man's mind, and that have freed millions of people in the last hundred years alone? Are we losers or are we people who change the world?" (Glenn Beck, The Daily Herald, 30 Jun 2008)
Oh, do not mistake me, there are certainly arrogant Americans, as there are arrogant Frenchmen, Englishmen, Middle Easterners, Polynesians . . . from every country in the world, and we have our section of "self-entitled" people who think the world owes them a living. They are of value to no one. Where the value lies is in the internalization of freedom. Freedom is not free. Freedom is not easy. But, freedom is essential.
At that same venue, Glenn Beck also said,
So bringing this back around to the original point, the view that suddenly America is having problems where we've never had them before. My friends around the world, America is a living, breathing nation with more problems than we can count. It has always been so. What protects us, what keeps our government strong, is the Constitution of the United States of America. With this divinely inspired document, Americans were given a chance to make democracy work through a vehicle called a republic.
"People are dying in the desert to have just a small piece of what we take for granted every day," he said. "How can it not be worth fighting for? . . . We just have to recognize it and remember who we are. ... We are the ones who will take us to new places beyond our wildest imaginations. It will be hard and rough, but oh, we'll have this tale to tell," Beck said. "All is well. All is well." (Ibid)
- Yes, our nation was torn apart with civil war in the late 1800's.
- Yes, we have suffered a debilitating depression in the early 1900s.
- Yes, we have crime running rampant in our nation and thus has it ever been. For there have always been those who wish to take that which is not theirs.
- Yes, we have those within the borders of our nation, a portion of our very citizens, who wish to destroy America, ultimately and completely.
- Yes, we have our poor and destitute.
- Yes, we struggle to pay our bills.
- Yes, we have our communists, socialists and fascists and ever struggle to keep them from destroying what has been built within the borders of America.
The Statue of Liberty is our symbol of freedom, as our American Flag is the symbol of our patriotism. At her base it reads:
Your huddled masses yearning to be free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, the tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp by the golden door.