Monday, March 7, 2016

So much good in a name

Growing up learned things about my country which maybe weren't exactly correct but did have that routine of seeing Americans as the good ones. And in entertainment could just kind of take it for granted that American heroes behaved a certain way. Though there were some nuances, for instance with movies about Vietnam.

After the September 11th terrorist attacks though so much changed. And was surprised to hear a narrative from some against what they saw as a too soft America. Some were even saying then that the country had to be more like the bad guys. Had to be meaner.

Some of the hostility against aspects of the US Constitution which actually are rather liberal, is something people may not realize today or fathom. There was a deep questioning of some American values. The nation I feel had to go to war, and we must protect ourselves, but I do wonder about those who clearly decided that what was before was not good enough.

Today few will openly question basic American values. Many will wrap themselves up in the American flag metaphorically, as they claim to want what's best for the country, while attacking the foundations of its existence.

Luckily the web can help! Was pleasantly surprised when I found myself enjoying reading the Declaration of Independence which made so much more sense to me as an adult, than when studied in school as a child. And for the first time really felt I could identify with the momentous decisions that were made which would lead to a vibrant nation, of which I can be proud to be a citizen.

Today politicians battle it out for so many things in our country, and I do think is lost the idea of having a good name. And also is too often lost in commentary the value in having a country with a great reputation for core human values.

The principles on which this nation were founded can stand against challenge. And have withstood it for centuries, proving themselves as great ideals even while not really met, as a nation built on liberty had slaves, or was hostile to its other immigrants, or waged wars of various kinds which could bring many to question.

What might be a greater challenge for my nation in our times though is a steady weakening of principle by people who dare not go against directly. Who claim allegiance while spitting on the behaviors that prove it. Like believing that abusing prisoners is ok, if you need information, as if this nation could ever celebrate beating up on those at your mercy.

Am not wise enough to think better than those principles, nor do I dare. But if I ever did, at least I'd be brave enough to admit it, rather than demean a name that has stood for something in this world.

The United States of America should always stand for something I firmly believe. And I prefer when it stands for greatness in values as well as so much else, yes material.

Where life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness will have meaning that resonates for many in a world as words that help herald a nation which will never yield to tyranny of any kind, the name should be one that comes to mind.

James Harris
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