Every July 4th I remind myself of the courage of the founders of my country. The beauty of the declaration of independence is in the broad inclusiveness of the sentiments expressed. The global equality of mankind as expressed is at the root of the American dream. However, the history of our country is littered with the carcasses of failed policies and leaders who have not lived up to the lofty expectations of that celebrated document. The 4th should be used as a time to refocus on the sentiments expressed. This land of immigrants is not about where you were born, but about what you believe in. It is about fairness, equity and the continuous match toward a more perfect union.
The dream of America is alive and prospering despite all the attempts to distract. Some have lost hope in the self-evident greatest of the American experiment. I am not one. For people of color the American experience is that of continued heart-break, but there runs a determined strain of hope that as continued to improve our lot in this union. I read the declaration of independence on the 4th to be reminded of the promise and the progress. This is a marathon not a sprint, and we dream of true equality as we march toward that goal. This is my American dream.
I have hope because I have to be hopeful. I have young children and I know that the world has changed for the better and that change will continue. Most importantly I know that the growth in American society is irreversible because my generation and the following have made it so. As the country ages those who express the old prejudices have been out numbered and embarrassed into submission. There will always be a few stubborn ones. There will always be some expressions of darkness, but the light of equity is here to say. Progress has been slow and inconsistent but it is here to stay.
The continuous expression of hope and growth is why I continue to love my America. American greatness is derived from the philosophy of her people. If you were born in this land or emigrated the dream is the same. We are a people buoyed by hope and the understanding that we can be the best and always expect to be.
What is your American dream?
Have you heard that America is an exceptional country? If you have not, I am here to tell you that she is. American exceptionalism is alive well and is the truth. Nowhere in the world can you find this mix of people, tolerance and acceptance. We have become what some of the founders imaged and others opposed. We have become a multi ethnic democracy. We have become a beige nation without many of us noticing. All the talk about white, black and brown and we have not noticed the beiging.
Our pop culture has long ago beiged. We still call it white or black, but outside of these borders others call it all American culture. America is exceptional because we have come through the birth with scars, but we have not been disfigured. We have survived the process as a whole. Where else in the world is this blending happening, more importantly where else will it be allowed to happen?
In spite of the economic challenges we will continue to be the place where the ambitious, hard-working and talented want to make their home. The last hump is to prevent barriers being established. I will posit that those who would establish barriers have already lost. They just have not realized it as yet. America continues to be exceptional because she has an open society and allow all to have access to the means of success. We may not score the highest in all areas, but the goal is not to be the best in every category, but to be competitive in all.
We may not realize it but one of the strongest pillars of America’s continued success is its safety net. The shortsighted and self-centered among us are trying to disassemble the safety net, but they will not. They will not succeed. They will not succeed because American success is dependent on the willingness of the talented to risk all, knowing that the country will not allow them to fall without a net. Truthfully the net is just above devastation, but there is a net. Success is not guaranteed, but we all believe we will.
We all believe, because we see it happening daily and we know what is needed. Hard work, total commitment and that quest to attain the American Dream.
Yes we can!
MLK day is a Federal holiday celebrating the work and life of Dr Martin Luther King Jr in advancing the cause of civil rights for all. His brand of resistance was non-violent and has inspired many around the world. The older I get the more I appreciate the importance of celebrating this great man. His view of civil rights was open and expansive and included great regard and advocacy for the poor. This and his opposition to the Vietnam war is not often discussed, but is worth the time to investigate.
The life and times of MLK is a testament to the strength of the founding ideals of American democracy. The ideas are great but the execution has been lacking from the start. The continued struggle to make this a more perfect union is what makes MLK day a worthy celebration. MLK day signifies hope and dreams. Dreams that my girls can and will have the opportunities needed for a truly fulfilling life.
The MLK example in its truest sense is inclusive and expansive. His dream is the American Dream. It is not of material gain but of Liberty for all. The dream asks me to be responsible for my fellow-man. The dream asks me to be responsible for the biosphere. The dream asks me to have the foresight to dream of a time when we all can free ourselves from the mental slavery. The slavery that still continues to hold the color of a person’s skin as a reflection of his intellect. That long walk to freedom of the mind is still ongoing. I use to forget the struggles, but when you have kids there are things you cannot ignore. The anemic celebration of the ideals of MLK is one of those things that cannot be ignored. It cannot be ignored because in some quarters there is still a deep-rooted disregard and disdain for his message. Depending on where you live it may seem as if this holiday is ignored or just tolerated. Why is that? Why is it that some businesses opt out? I am slightly offended but I should not be surprised?
I celebrate in part by reflecting on the words of Bob Marley and Nelson Mandela, because it continues to be a long walk to our redemption. How will you celebrate?