I think every Memorial Day we should all stop for at least a few minutes and reflect about what it means to be American. We should stop swimming at the beaches, halt the flopping of the burgers and chicken wings, put down the Margaritas and look at ourselves. Who are we? Why do we have the privilege to have this country of ours?
Most importantly, we should be so thankful and honor the courageous men and women who made this day possible.
Being patriotic is defined not by the person who speaks the loudest. Rather, it’s defined by the ones who let their actions speak for themselves. If you ever meet a military person, what is the one trait you see across the board? It’s humility and respect towards everyone. These are the character traits which reflect American values.
So, on this day, I want to dive deep into our souls. Please work with me and be honest.
If you were to close your eyes, who would you see as the vision of the emblematic American? Would they look like this?
In my eyes, they are one part of the American demographic pie. Unfortunately, Donald Trump, like many others in our country, see a different type of America than which exists today. These people tend to be the ones chanting USA, USA, USA during a rally, or at ‘ethnic people’ implying they are not Americans! Did you ever think about what they are really saying? It is not hard to figure out, yet often we tend not to listen or put that chant into context. Almost 99% of the time, they are all Caucasians, and they view people who do not look like them ‘others,’ as if they are residents of ‘their’ country. These chanters are not patriotic, they are either outward or unaware racists. The truth is these people act as if they are the original people who were here the longest and made this country great. Now it would be rude to call these people ignorant, but aren’t they?
To me, being an American is being proud of the principles in which it stands. Being an American is an ideology, an experiment if you will, to live in a true democracy. This democracy is indeed a fragile one. This patchwork democracy needs to constantly be reminded that we are a group of diverse people who all believe in the American dream…life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our democracy is vulnerable by its very nature, because humans are not perfect and hatred has a chance to brew depending on one’s socio-economic situation clashing against the American dream.
The rise of Donald Trump should not be such a surprise. Many of Trump’s supporters (not all – many I know are very smart and not divisive) are angry and their anger is focused on the “others’ that are, in their distorted mind, changing the very fabric of America. These people tend to be older and whiter. They resent the emergence of diversity, which ironically is what being an American stands for!
If we are being truthful, our history is not pretty at all. We did very bad things to many people that we always need to remember so that it never happens again. Such is the case in present day Germany, as every day in every school the students discuss the Holocaust. They are not responsible for this horrific time in the country’s history. However, to be German is to incorporate that era into their being so they can thrive to be a more humanistic people who have learned the lessons of hate – and never want that to happen again. By embracing their history rather than sweeping it under the rug, it shows a level of courage and honesty which they can be proud of.
So let’s remember how our country was born. America was created by stealing the land from Native Americans and built on the backs of African Slaves. This does not mean that we have to apologize to our fellow Native and African Americans every day. We did not do it. However, many of our forefathers did. As brilliant as they were to design a Constitution with such lofty ideals, some of them were guilty of the cruelest things to their fellow man. We need to accept their greatness and their flaws to fully be an American.
To be a great American, we need to stop feeling that immigrants are the problem. The same people that are chanting USA, USA, USA for the ‘wrong reasons’ were immigrants themselves (unless they are Native Americans who I have not seen in a Trump rally lately)!
When the country is fearful, we tend to blame others. We look back at a ‘perceived’ rosy time when things were better. Here is the question…better for who? Were women better off more than 30 years ago? The same with African Americans. Not a chance! Thinking about the ‘better times’ in America has a lot to do with the race and religion in which you were born.
To attack fear, we need to embrace the fact the color and diversity of America is changing. That can cause fear for many of the White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASP) who do not want this change. To some of them, it is an illegitimate invasion of ‘their country’ which needs to be stopped.
No worries! To the rescue is the voice of your fears to stop this change. Introducing the ‘Purebred WASP Donald J. Trump.’ He is the voice of division and amplification of the differences among us. Just this past week, he accused a United States Federal Judge of not giving him a fair hearing for his now defunct Trump University because he is Mexican. Here tells us everything you need to know about how Trump views Americans…He is NOT Mexican, he Is American, and every much as him! The racism he spews in this day and age is both repulsive and wholly un-American. Heck, he has no problem saying this out loud. What he wants is to restore America to the way he sees America, but far worse, the way many people still see this country.
Well Donald, here is America. Take a good hard look, because it not going away anytime soon. And the sooner you accept it and stop demagoguing differences, the better off we will all be as Americans. The truth is that a Muslim American is just as American as White Presbyterian American. So is an Asian American, a women, the disabled, and the veterans who were prisoners of war (I salute you John McCain). All these groups of people make up the beautiful rainbow and uniqueness which is America.
So when I close my eyes and picture who is American, these are my visions:
Sometimes, pictures speak more than words. This is our future. America indeed has better days ahead – as long as we embrace the values and class to be an American.
This is not our future. Americans think big. This guy is too small.