Saturday, July 4, 2015

America Is For Everyone* (*certain restrictions may apply)


What is an American?

Defining who or what an American truly is can be more than a bit tricky. It's not like being identified as French or Norwegian or Japanese or Egyptian and so on. Those designations are somewhat easier to arrive at through a shared culture and language.  But to be American is not so easily tied to a definitive. Most of us speak English but even that bond is splintered by accents and dialects. The origins of this county and its large size makes a unified identification of what it means to be an American harder to nail down.

There are those who try. But mostly this is done by weeding out the outliers from your own personal point of view. What it means to be an American is to be the person we see in the mirror. Those who deviate too far from what we see there are not us and therefore, not American.

This article posted information from recent surveys on the subject of American identity. Here are some of the results on the question on what is important to be considered truly American.

  • Speak English: 89 percent say this is very or somewhat important.
  • Believe in God: 69 percent.
  • Were born in the U.S.: 58 percent.
  • Are Christian: 53 percent.
I think speaking English is a most useful skill to have to make it in the United States of America. But English is not our language, at least not originally. English is what a lot of our ancestors brought over with them from England. I supposed if the Vikings who first made their way to this continent had actually stuck around and made a go of it, I suppose most of us would be speaking Norwegian.  Anyway, English is our go-to for speaking so it seems like a good idea to know it. 

But the other three are a bit troublesome. Let's take a look at that third point about being born in the U.S. Considering most of us have ancestors who came to this country (most willingly, others less so) from other countries, it seems an odd requirement that to be a true American, we must be born here. 

And the other points about believing in God? And more to the point, being a Christian? Yes, the Founding Fathers believed in a higher power and it says "In God We Trust" right there on our money. But whose God are we talking about? Well, if you're 53% of the people from this survey, that God is the God Christians believe in. Which is just fine and dandy. If you're a Christian. Not so much if you're not. 

Too many Christians have adopted a proprietary stance when it comes to the American dream. Think about the battle against Marriage Equality where the main argument against it is that the Bible says its a bad thing. They try to tie that belief to very tenuous points of law and cry foul when courts say that as a matter of law, as a matter of constitutionality, it doesn't hold up. 

One of the ideals of this country is that we are free to worship. Which means not everyone is going to worship the same way. Not everyone is going to have the same beliefs, the same perspectives. 

Not everyone is going to meet the same definition of what it means to be an American. And the only definition that matters is we live in a country built upon the ideal that all of us should have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, even if we don't all look and act alike. 

Be good to one another. 

Dave-El 
I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You. 

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