David Reynolds | Only an idea
May I suggest that this Fourth of July you set aside a quiet moment during the day’s celebrations to reflect on what America means to you. Don’t be surprised if your reflection is only an idea. Because that is what America is about – a cornucopia of ideas.
Of course, we all know that nothing is as powerful as an idea. And we know that our ideas are what give America its strength. Thus we are strong for what we believe in – not for what we possess.
So let’s dig into our cornucopia and see what we find. Take peace and freedom for example. They are right at the top. Some Americans will search for peace first, while others will seek freedom first. Please don’t confuse the two. Patrick Henry went for freedom. He called it liberty.
But how about you? Which do you value more highly? First, let’s take those who primarily seek peace. Most likely they are part of a new growing culture, the achievement class. Achieving end results are what seems to count most these days. Peace seekers are therefore goal oriented people. For example, they are attracted by universal health care and free college education. How they plan to achieve these laudable goals is of secondary importance. Naturally, their focus is within – within themselves and within our borders. Foreign affairs just don’t make that all important personal connection.
As for the freedom seekers, they are cut from a different cloth — a cloth without an end. To them the process is what counts and it is never finished. Freedom seekers come from the old school, out of old values. They just don’t seek responsibility, they crave it. Their favorite saying: “Evil triumphs when good men do nothing.”Which will it be for you? Peace or freedom. Sorry about the either or choice. But this is about life.
Here’s another question to ponder this Fourth: Would the rest of the world be better off if the USA did not exist? Again, no professorial fence sitting. Your answer will depend on whether you view America as primarily an exporter or an importer. Do we export more knowledge and ideas than we import other resources? Are we generous to a fault or are we just fat folks who exist at the expense of the rest of the world?
Here is another tie-in question: How do you view America’s wars? Do we fight as part of multinational crusades to preserve peace — plus freedom — wherever it is threatened? Or do we engage in conflicts mainly to preserve and protect those resources, such as oil, which are vital to our way of life?
Another Independence Day question: How do you view equal opportunity? Do you believe that it should lead to equal results for everyone? Do you believe that results should be a consideration when “equal justice under law” may fail to provide the desired results. How do you view the Constitution? Do you read it as a means to achieve your desired ends or are you a strict constructionist?
So there you have it. Is the United States of America just another imperialist nation? Or are we some place special that God has already blessed, a great and noble nation that at times has made mistakes?
Never forget that our nation is an experiment, the Great American Experiment. For 233 years the experiment has been working. Let’s keep it going. Let’s continue to recognize the difference between peace and freedom. Let’s keep exporting our ideas and knowledge for the benefit of the entire world. If we must, let us fight to preserve our way of life. And let us continue to provide those opportunities in order for all to rise or fall as they so choose. And, finally, remember there is no need to sing “God Bless America.” He already has.
Have a happy Fourth!
– Column by David Reynolds