Over the last several months, I’ve been reading several books that tell the story of early America. I’m amazed at how fragile the beginning of the country was, and to some extent, still is.
Just imagine what it must have been like to start a country. Who does that? And when they started, it was an amalgam of ideas that lead to “We the People.” In all world history to that point governments were established by dictators, monarchs, and warriors. And then out of the intense arguments about what the new country would look like emerges this system of government where the people have the responsibility to govern themselves. It’s just absolutely amazing.
When I look at the flag flying now, I see history.
When I hear the national anthem, I hear struggle.
When I walk the streets of one of our cities, I feel this incredible pride.
I know, over the last number of decades, the idea has been tarnished. America has had to go back in it’s own history and become self-aware of the era’s that weren’t so incredible. While writing “All men are created equal” we’ve had to re-focus on the ills that made America great.
The struggle of the Native American’s place in this incredible idea.
The detestable act of slavery that seemed to be the culture of the founders as they tried to find the definition of human beings.
The imperialism/colonialism that did so much damage across the world.
This country has experienced dark times I think we would all agree are less than the idea of a “City on a Hill.”
But even though we have history, America still has an ideal unique to the world. The struggle to strive for the phrase that “All men are created equal” is unique. The idea that every man has the right to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. The guiding principle there is a document guiding our government legally, and no matter where you are on the social ladder of life, you’re still beheld to the same laws, rules, and regulations as anyone else. These are just a few things where America stands out as possibly the greatest national experiment of all time.
So when someone abroad begins to highlight the dark spots, I find myself having to say, “Yes, America isn’t perfect.” But in the same breath, “Isn’t she worth standing beside, fighting for, and pursuing the best we have?”
On this fourth of July weekend, as you take to the lakes, the Bar-B-Q, and the celebrations, be sure to take a minute or two to reflect on the gratefulness for a system like America. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but in light of so many other potentials, it’s ideals are right, true, and worth the struggle.