American in America
Do we as American citizens, know what being American is? If we were to go outside of our country’s boundaries, it is my conclusion that most people asked would be able to define what being American is. The answers would be significantly similar, despite what areas of the world the question is asked.
However, asking those within our boundaries, the same questions, would yield different responses. There would be some similarities, but the differences would resound louder than the similarities. Our experiences lend itself to how we view our current status and position in American society. Depending on who you are and how you fare economically, ethnically, religiously and racially, you may feel as if you are not treated like an American or a at least a “complete” American.
However, there still must be a basic definition we all have about what being an American is. We have to have some reference point when we say we are or are not an American. I think there is a need to revisit those common principles and values we all have embedded within ourselves. What are those values and beliefs we are share dear? What unites us can definitely be stronger than what is dividing us.
During a trip on a plane, I met a young soldier who was retired Army special forces who did two tours in the Middle East. Our conversation matriculated to this particular topic. It was a very interesting conversation. Somewhere in the conversation, he made the statement, “Who would have thought that the two of us who are opposite in every way (Southern white male, army trained and Northern African American women, educated) would agree on so many concepts? Agreeing only occurred because we actually talked and listened. We valued each other’s opinion. We agreed to have differences but we focused on the similarities.
How much better would our country be if we began to talk and seek to understand versus seeking to find fault or to defend our positions? America was birthed from a desire to have freedoms – to be valued and to be respected as individuals.
We must find a way to return to a civil way of communicating and expressing our differences. The future of our society needs a shift. Our youth need to see adults moving towards a collaborative and conciliatory shift in communication and interaction. Our existence depends on this shift. As a nation we are fractured but not broken. We can fix US!