Scranton: Keeping what’s important
We just celebrated Independence Day which marked our 245th birthday as a country.
Founded for political reasons to avoid unfair taxation and chart course for a future our forefathers envisioned critical enough to sign their names to a declaration that might cost them their freedom and quite possibly their lives, America has always stood for trying to make things right and building on institutions that would ensure protection of our constitutional democracy. So what has happened?
Some people look around today and say that they barely recognize what our forefathers intended. Others argue we are a country in need of some serious reflection and solutions that will try and ease the abuses of our past.
Still, others verbally espouse a country in need of taking on a completely different form of democracy that attends to the needs of the many less fortunate. But, somehow, through all the noise and clutter of our differing voices, the story of our nation continues to unfold.
The story unfolds out of respect for the past, and what we have learned, commingled with continual progress toward an unknown future. Both views are important and help temper our conservative and liberal ideologies.
What’s important about the American story is the dream that encapsulates our identity. The idea of “The American Dream” has influenced people and countries toward eclipsing anything they thought possible thanks in part to our historical founding and a rag-tag (by Loyalist standards) bunch of people whose common identity would prove to help change and shape the world.
The United States as a country has proven resilient through a host of changes and shifts in attitudes. Institutions such as public schools, private enterprise, limited representative government, a deference for the president and the Supreme Court and overarching pride in who we are as a country has helped to weather the storms of our history — not always perfect, sometimes violent, often confrontational, but concerned overwhelmingly with justice and making things better.
What’s important tends to be the things that are easiest to attack and try to tear down because institutions that have been around for a long time often do need some type of reinvention for improvement or a fresh realization of their importance.
Should we decide as a country that the things that are important are manifested in a simple popularity of opinion or by sheer force of will; we will have surrendered our best example to those who look to us for hope. We are an enterprise of imperfect human beings who stand apart from so many other countries because of our willingness to consider the welfare of the many, the ideas of the marginalized, and the fairness of opportunity for all.
These are the things that are important, worth keeping and fighting for, and through it all, we will have a story to tell and many more years of trying to form a union of people who still care enough for each other to make sacrifices, listen, learn and be the exception that attracts thousands to our country every year.
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