July 31, 2005
I love America, but I don’t consider myself a “nationalist”. America, to me, is not simply a nation. America doesn’t start or end at our borders. America is an idea.
“The American Dream” is more than three little words. It is the idea that if you put your mind to something, the only thing that will cause your success or failure is the strength of your idea and your work. The government, ‘the man’, isn’t going to keep you down. The American Dream is an expression of the triumph of human potential. It is, in three little words, the idea that you can be all that you desire and more.
But it extends even farther. Not only is it your own right and prerogative to choose your own occupation, it is your prerogative to act, believe, vote, and behave in a way of your own choice. The distinction is made between economic and personal liberty, but they are simply two sides of the same coin. Just as the American Dream states that anyone can make it economically, the American thought of personal liberty gives each person the ability to act as they see fit. The government, the church, ’society’, though they may disagree with your actions, allow you to do what you like, so long as you do not infringe on others.
America is a land of equality. This isn’t to say that results will ever be equal, or that we expect everyone to achieve the same thing, but equality of opportunity. The idea of individualism incorporates the idea that “group identity” is a farce. In America, it doesn’t matter where you start, what you look like, what neighborhood (or even country) you are from. You are judged, and treated, on your individual merits. While “equality” is never intended to mean that people, de facto, are “equal”, it is to say that they are treated equally. They are evaluated, by their peers, by their society, and by their government, on an individual basis.
Last, America is not simply the individual, as each individual is part of a community. America is also charity. A system that is based upon freedom and liberty is bound to have winners and losers. We know that misfortune can hit our neighbors as easily as it can hit us, and Americans are always willing to lend a helping hand to those around us. It is a byproduct of the economic freedom, the personal liberty, and the hope that both create, that lead to a desire to spread that hope to those around you.
This isn’t to say that America: the nation always lives up to America: the idea. Nor is it to say that people in other countries don’t hold the American idea. The question of “anti-Americanism” in this country is one that is fired at the Right all day long. For me, being American includes only one thing: a belief in the American idea. Are there people in this country, on the Left and the Right, who don’t believe in the American idea? Of course. It is the Left, who believe it is their job to control and plan our economy, to punish the rich, to determine who we should hire, who we should fire, how and where people should be employed, and under what conditions, that are anti-American. And the Right, who push the protection not of opportunity, but of the businesses they are friendly to, who want to legislate all of our morality, who believe they should control who ingests what, who loves whom, and that our society should follow their Bible, that are anti-American.
America is a wonderful thing. But when I say this, it is the America that each person holds in their hearts of which I speak. This America is held in the heart of the trust-fund baby who believes that he needs to “earn” his right to that fund. It is held in the heart of the inner-city youth striving to be the first person in his family to make it to college. It is held in the heart of the immigrant, coming here with nothing but the shirt on his back, who is going to work his butt off to earn himself a living and send checks home to help his family. And it is in the heart of every liberty-loving member of an oppressed group, regardless of what country he’s in, that is striving to bring the idea of liberty and the American dream to his own shores.
When I say that I love America, I think of an idea. America, in my mind, is the country that has most closely followed that idea. But that is not cause for me to love my nation when it fails in that ideal, or to refrain from criticism when I think we move farther from it. It is my goal to do what I can to see America the nation become America the ideal. I think that the ideal on which America was founded is the best we, as humans, have yet discovered, and I look forward to seeing that ideal triumph on our shores and abroad.
The Liberty Papers»Blog Archive linked with The Gadsden Flag
Below The Beltway linked with Libertarian Nationalism
Louisiana Libertarian linked with America The Ideal
Owlish Mutterings linked with Carnival of Liberty #5
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