Americans commemorated Independence Day this week. We live in a land where creation is possible. As a nation we have been the most free, most prosperous nation on earth. America has also been the most egalitarian nation ever to have existed in the history of the world.
Yet, still we hear from those who say there’s no reason to celebrate. America’s detractors shout, she is country where not everyone gained their freedom or their equality in 1776. They say a nation stained with the evil of slavery, a nation that once refused women and blacks the right to vote or hold property, isn’t a nation worth lauding. We continue to hear that our freedom and free market system only bring opportunity to the few. They claim the system just makes the rich richer and the poor poorer.
Well they are wrong. They are stuck in the past unaware of our present with no vision for the future. An inability to view the progress we have made and to acknowledge the strides forward we have taken is their shortcoming. They envy a utopia that exists nowhere in the world. They have remorse that the nation does not match their personal dream without tolerating the idea that there are 330 million other dreams all equally held that they refuse to value.
We all either have or will experience both the inequality and the opportunity of this nation. Women and minorities are treated more equally in our society than in most other nations. Despite their flawed nature as human beings, our Founders laid out principles for forming a nation. Those principles are based on humanity’s highest ideals. Nowhere else on earth had that ever been done before.
The founding principles have guided this nation. They provided a framework that allows our society to recognize the error of its ways. We abolished slavery. We fought a war to decide the issue. But decide it we did. We recognized women’s and minorities’ right to vote. We recognized the right to own property and to have the full and equal rights of all citizens.
We endeavor through our laws and our actions to eradicate the unequal treatment of fellow Americans. It is the content of our character not out ethnicity, religion, politics that is important. America is a great place not because it is perfect but because it is free, open tolerant and willing to work. It is willing to recognize its shortcomings and to strive to right its own wrongs.
Yes, we have had to grow into our principles. The Founders knew what we aspired to be. True the country wasn’t there yet. Even today, we still have far to go. The Founders knew that it would be a journey for us to realize our ideals. They did set a course for achieving them. Every generation since has born the responsibility to advance them. That’s what has made America the unique and wonderful nation that it is.
America is great not only because we’ve grown to rectify many of our wrongs. She has been an incredibly positive force for good around the world. We’ve built a free and prosperous nation where anyone has the opportunity to thrive and live out their dreams. We’ve also shared that gift with the world, helping others to achieve the same. Capitalism has done more to lift more people out of poverty than any other economic system in history. Over the last 25 years, it has been free markets that have cut the global poverty rate by two-thirds.
In the United States, every segment of the population has seen their incomes rise and their opportunities grow. Americans realize that people around the world deserve the same blessings of freedom and prosperity that we have. We work to spread these blessings to other countries. We’ve even helped others fight for their freedom in both world wars and peacekeeping missions around the world. When we’ve helped other countries defeat tyrants or repel invaders, we don’t use the opportunity to conquer them and build an empire. We help them to rebuild and become self-sufficient. That has never happened before.
These are proofs of a nation reaching for its highest ideals. It may have taken too long to correct many of America’s early injustices. But we are a work in progress. It is our founding principles themselves that created the framework that has allowed us to solve some of our biggest issues.
America may not be perfect. But we are the greatest force for good this globe has ever seen. America works to bring freedom, to protect life and create prosperity. We apply our problem-solving ability to our own land and to others that want to replicate them. Alexis de Tocqueville said of America, “The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.” His words rang true almost 200 years ago and are no less so today.
Here’s hoping you were able to enjoy watching fireworks, eating hot dogs and apple pie, proudly celebrating America with family and friends. More importantly here’s hoping we can continue to work together toward the vision of the nation our Founders thought we could be. God Bless America.