Your patience and forbearance are requested for the insertion of the personal, but there is a very important point that needs to be made. It must not be overlooked. I have been fortunate beyond description in my life, in every way, including having lived in Western Europe for many years, thus being afforded the gift of having learned other languages and other cultures. I have had great privilege and have relished in that privilege. All this privilege and relish came to a screeching halt, however, as a result of factors I could not change, and for the first time in my life, I was forced to enter the world of the ‘lower orders’ (one of the great phrases of the inimitable P. G. Wodehouse). It was an experience, no matter of what growth it may have provided, I could have done without; that is, but for one discovery I made during this period. It is a discovery that I value beyond words, and one I would not give up for anything.
That discovery is how extraordinarily good the American people are.
It’s not just that they are kind; they are always that. It’s not just that they are brave; they demonstrate that every day. It’s not just that they think of other people before themselves; just look at American history to see that demonstrated repeatedly. It’s not just that they are giving; Americans are always – each and every year since such documentation was started – the biggest private donors to charitable organizations than any other people on earth. It’s so much more than that. The American people are just plain…good.
I was able to observe individuals who lived in the northeast with work to do and no extra money hear on the news of the ravages of a hurricane in the southeast and without a word get in their trucks or RV’s or SUV’s and go there to help. They didn’t know anything about anyone personally who was harmed in the catastrophe, just that there were Americans who needed help. I saw American citizens in Washington and New York line up to give blood and do anything else they could to help the victims of September 11th, primarily to give blood, even though there weren’t any bodies to put the blood into. The 3000 plus dead had all been incinerated by the 19 enthusiastic members of the religion of peace.
I have seen the faces of Spanish-only speaking newcomers to America realizing that they were successfully communicating for the first time in their adopted language with English-only speaking Americans, and the absolute joy that radiated. I saw people who had next to nothing give to those who had slightly less, with nothing to gain from it. I saw people who had never been given the opportunity to learn manners be as polite as a European grandee to someone equally or even less fortunate than they.
I have watched the faces of people to whom it has finally sunk in what it is to be an American, and how very, very seriously it is taken. It is a wonder to behold; one could see that those who comprehend what they have been given from then on, cherish this consummately precious thing.
I cherish having witnessed these people, and I cherish these experiences. America is an ideal, and having seen people experience the wonder of this ideal, and the fact that this actually could apply directly to them, provided me with the profound gift of experiencing it myself all over again. This was something I could experience even more having lived abroad for such a long time, and having been made even more aware of the specialness of the United States of America.
It’s even better the second time around.
Thus, I find it downright sad that one could be given the gift of the American ideal, and not to understand the preciousness of it. What is better in life than to comprehend that you have, by birth, immigration or some other accident of fate, achieved the best there is? There is no hubris in this realization of what America gives people; this is only reality.
In the United States of America, there is nothing than you cannot do (at least that’s how it was supposed to be). You can try, succeed, fail, lose everything, curse the darkness, get up, try again, fail again, get up again, succeed, and be the most elegant or most vulgar rich person on earth. What more freedom of individual determination and effort could a human being want? You don’t need anyone’s permission in the United States of America (again, how it used to be); there is no limit to what you can achieve, relative to the amount of effort you decide to make. Even in the most ancient societies and sophisticated nations in Western Europe, what you have achieved through efforts and direction up to a certain point defines what you are able to do and achieve for the rest of your life. In France, for example, the degree you have achieved in your Baccalaureate determines the path of your life from then on. Other than in the United States of America, one can’t change from being a financial advisor at 30 to becoming a doctor at 50; in America you can go from being a lawyer to a librarian to a mechanic, or vice versa, to whatever you want next in your lifetime. There are no restrictions but being able to afford to finance your next stage in life. Of course, the people you’re connected to might have a thing or two to say about the familial upset these various changes may cause, but if you can afford it, and your family is okay with it, as an American, life is your oyster.
Yet another unique thing about Americans is that they applaud the success of others, no matter what the age, what the position, no matter what the purpose, nor what the station of the person who succeeds. I have, for example, seen people approaching bankruptcy be thrilled with the latest real estate coup of the Donald You see, they watch this, knowing that in America, there is nothing stopping them from doing exactly the same thing, and who doesn’t want to be the next Donald? Actually, a lot of us don’t want to be the next Donald, but you see my point.
It is both obvious and tragic that our current leaders do not understand this, the glory that is America. This is true especially because the vast amount of the nation’s citizens do understand it, even if not a whole lot of people articulate it.
Why should they?
They don’t have to. They are Americans, and they know what that means. They know the gift they have been given, and they cherish it. They don’t need self-styled elites explaining to them that we’re all in this together, and other claptrap, they know it already. Americans help other Americans without having to be told to do it by the politically correct police, and Americans don’t need to be told that their country is great, they know that full well. At the same time, they sure don’t want to see their precious nation humiliated by their leaders apologizing for its existence and bowing to dictators with an avowed hatred of the nation they love.
There is a truly disturbing and real disconnect for the first time in our history, or perhaps the first time it has been this obvious, between the profoundly good and sensible American people and the people who seem to have been elected as our leaders in Washington, D.C.
Our leaders don’t believe in the goodness of the American people, and have no faith in what Americans can do for and by themselves. Our leaders don’t believe in the American ideal that is an intrinsic part of every American I have ever come across, whether in the lower orders or elsewhere. How can they govern a nation as wonderful as this with a people as wonderful – and as good – as are the American people?
The answer is clearly that they don’t effectively, that they can’t, and they won’t for much longer.