It is the Fourth of July weekend. Our nation’s 243rd birthday. It is a time for celebration with grilling, beer, friends and family. But we should not start the celebration before stopping even for a moment and reflecting on what it means for our country to celebrate its birthday and what it means to have this great country as our home.
I must admit that I am not very knowledgeable in the early American history. But from what we all know this is a unique country that started with an ambitious philosophy: open the land to anyone and everyone, allow them to dream their far-fetched dreams or even ridiculous dreams … give them freedom to think, to work, to worship and to express their points of view … give them all ample respect and appreciation … enhance the value of every single member of this nation and see what happens. I don’t think that a similar experiment was ever tried or even thought it was possible in the history of civilization.
After a shaky start, the experiment started to develop deep roots in the land. In the process, it started also to develop huge wings to help it soar. It was a new experiment. No one was sure of the results. But the foundation that was laid through the constitution and the Bill of Rights, gave this new and young country a road map to create a new-found path for humanity that had never been forged before.
It took us a while to implement these philosophies equally. For a while, not all our citizens enjoyed equal treatment under the law. Some were even discriminated against because of their gender, race, ethnicity or the color of their skin. These were the blemishes that tarnished the almost perfect multicolor tapestry that is the essence of our country. We woke up to find that we were not perfect. Actually, far from it.
But one of the most impressive characteristics of America is its ability to say, “I am sorry” … the ability to identify its fault line and try, in earnest, to correct it. Our atonement has been for real and comes from a deep understanding that we, as a country, did not follow our own mantra that “all men are created equal” nor did we live up to our ideals. Our redemption has been an ongoing process. Sometimes we stumble, but we are set to correct our path and redeem ourselves. And we have done that.
And now as our country celebrate it 243rd birthday, we look inward to see where we really are and where we are going. We can’t hide the sense of deep admiration and pride in what our country has accomplished in its short history. The world did not imagine that the new country would grow to become not only the strongest country in the world but also the, much-needed moral compass of our world. Indeed, America became the greatest country in the history of humankind. That greatness was not derived only from its economic and military prowess, but it was more related to its values that it adopted; freedom, respect, liberty, accountability and equal treatment under the law.
Millions of immigrants flock to the gates of America seeking a better future for themselves and their children. It is very interesting that almost the whole world is very optimistic about America more than many Americans. People don’t want to come to America just for financial success. There is more to America than the economic opportunities. There is something majestic about America and its future. Many pregnant women come to America to deliver their babies here in order to give them the chance to become American citizens. So, these ladies have a trust that the future in America is rosier than anywhere else in the world.
During our visit to Germany last week, we met a lady living in Berlin who came to the U.S. to deliver her baby. She felt that the future in America is better than anywhere else in the world. If people outside the U.S. feel that way, then it behooves us to have the same degree of trust and optimism in our own country. During the political campaigns, many of us lose sight of how great and how wonderful our America is. Yes, we need to make it better, we need to make it greater, we need to make it good for every American. But we must not forget that we are privileged to live in the greatest country in this world.
As we celebrate our nation’s birthday, we must realize the privilege and the honor of being Americans. With every privilege, there comes a responsibility. Our collective responsibility is to preserve what our forefathers dreamed of which is building the most morally responsible nation on the face of the earth. It will be the task that each one of us should take seriously. This will be the realization of our forefathers’ dreams. They gave us a magnificent country and preserving it would be the least we can do to honor their sacrifices and pay homage to their leadership.
Happy Birthday, our Beautiful America!