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We Are All Americans

By Jim Killebrew

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[August 21, 2014]  We are in a season where there is much discussion about who is the best person to make the best decisions. The major political parties, along with some of the minor ones, are touting their positions, showcasing their candidates and, of course, finding fault with each other. Past positions and actions are being explored, mud is being thrown hoping that it will stick, and past actions, or lack of actions are being presented as a reason to vote or not vote for the person. Special interest groups are working overtime to get their positions out front and paint their perceptions on the minds of the voters, not to mention the candidates, some of whom will eventually wield some power. Through it all, however, there is a subject that is not being explored as thoroughly as it perhaps should be.

An adversarial climate is established every time we Americans go at it during an election. During that process I sometimes think we forget, or at least act like, we are not all Americans. We are people at a particular place in history, and a people geographically located in our world that makes us unique and blessed about as much as a people can be. Regardless of what revisionists of history may claim, ours is a culture rooted deeply in the Christian ethic. From that foundation we are uniquely Americans first and foremost. From our roots in Europe and the rest of the world, we have settled on the tenets of a form of government established in our country by patriots like Thomas Payne, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and many, many others. Those men and the women who loved and supported them, looked back to their roots and forward to a future when all people could live in freedom and peace. Sitting down together a group of colonists wove together a fabric of freedom and independence that has been unmatched anywhere in history. And in the process colonists became Americans. Not without cost, absolutely the cost was tremendous. Lives were sacrificed as men and women alike paid the ultimate price to secure that independence and freedom, along with its responsibility.

Many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence risked being hunted for treason. Some of the fifty-six men who signed that document were tortured to death, had their homes burned, lost their fortunes, had families killed and died penniless. Americans have grown through the years since that rag-tag band of freedom fighters secured our independence from Britain and the rest of the world. And the constitution they developed that was based on rights and freedoms has grown as well.

Amendments have been added that has increased the broad base of freedom and liberty. We have become more inclusive and equality itself has become more balanced. Through the years others have tried to crush that independence and freedom, only to be fought back with the sacrificial blood of Americans before us. And that threat is constant, always requiring Americans to stand strong, united and steadfast in our resolve to remain free and independent. It will never be easy to maintain liberties that others are driven to take away. We have seen that there are those around the world who will engage in any behavior to remove our liberty and freedoms. But we have fought to remain strong and free. When the threats have been raised by foreign tyranny, Americans from across our land have answered the call to protect our way of life. But the winds of cultural change are blowing across our land with newer generations of Americans who are perhaps taking for granted a liberty that has only been maintained by perseverance and blood.

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Liberty and freedom that allows choices also requires the acceptance of responsibility. For every opportunity I have to make a choice about what I like, or how I live my life has attached to it a responsibility to ensure that I am not using my freedom as a stepping stone on someone else’s head. For sure, those responsibilities involve the call to arms sometimes, but as importantly, the responsibility also involves obtaining and maintaining a set of ideas and values that are not always centered squarely on “what’s in it for me.” The “philosophy of selfishness” grows ever so deeply as we call others names, make accusations of deceit and untruthfulness about each other. Civility, selflessness and looking out for the other guy seem to be lost in our current “spin cycle” of politicians who appear to have lost themselves in their own personal desire to win…at any cost.

That cost is significant; but seems unnoticed because the loss is gradual, hardly noticeable as it happens, and not even discovered until it can be contrasted with what it once was. When you look at the comparison of the brave patriots who signed the Declaration of Independence, and the sacrifices they made, to today’s name-calling and smear tactics, you can see that we are not getting the best of the best. Now, as never before, we need to realize that as we continue to engage in hateful debate that debases the individual, rather than highlight the issues, our society with freedom and choice is moving further away from those foundational values that were secured by those who have lived and died before us. Could it be that those ideas and values that our past patriots have fought and died for are being slowly drained away as we elect candidates who have been so badly beaten down during the election cycle?


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