We have heard a lot about people entering our country for the sole purpose of having their children born here so that they become citizens of our country. And we call our citizens Americans. But what is America, and what is an American? Is it just a person born here? And is America (I know, the United States of America) just the name of a geographical territory in the Western Hemisphere.
To say simply that an American is whoever is born here or who has taken an oath of citizenship is like saying that the Bible or a contract is just ink markings on paper. It is true that a Bible is ink markings on paper, but it is not just that. And if America is just the sum total of those people we call citizens, then we have deconstructed or dumbed-down our ideals to make them irrelevant, undesirable, or even inappropriate.
If we don’t have an idea of what we are supposed to be like as a nation (if anything), then we have no way to evaluate how we are doing. You can’t fix something if you have no way of knowing if it is broken or what is broke. You can’t have a garden without knowing what the weeds are and what the plants are that you intentionally want to cultivate.
And you don’t create a new nation, like ours was created, without having a clear idea of what you want it to be. If we don’t know what we want to be as a nation, it’s like we are sitting in a rowboat without oars, going wherever the current and the waves push us. Like a ship without a rudder, it has no destination or goal. As long as it doesn’t sink, everything is alright.
Some people focus on the idea that we are a nation of immigrants, that America is not based on a particular ethnicity. When you say you have to be Japanese to be Japanese, you are not making a tautological statement. But you can be Japanese and still be an American.
We used to call it the melting pot, where all these different nationalities combine to form a new nationality, an American. But now we talk of the salad bowl, where each individual part of the mix retains its individual identity. There is no longer considered to be a distinctly American culture, certainly not one to be retained. Every culture is equally good; but if there is no actual American culture, then we become a mixture of all the other nations.
Is that so bad? If that’s so good, they could have stayed where they were, and we could have stayed the way we were. If the way we were was so bad, they wouldn’t have come here. If we become like the countries they came from, then we are not as great as we used to be.
If we don’t know why we are great or how we got that way, we will not know when we are losing that greatness, why, and how we can get it back.
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