Why is America the greatest country in the world? Just ask those who risk slavery, poverty, imprisonment and even death to reach the shores and borders of the United States.
No country in history gives more opportunities or has been more successful at enriching more people than the United States. This is why people from around the world are willing to risk their lives to come to America, and we never had to build an iron curtain to keep people in. No power has ever been more benign than the United States; we don't conquer countries, we rebuild them. The bulwark of America's strength is America's core values.
America is a nation that is never finished; each generation works at making it better. Threats to our ideals have always rallied those who believe in the promise of America. We believe that many of the current generation forthrightly hold, as generations of the past, to our core American values. We envision a national renewal of the basic principles that are at the root of our exceptionalism.
We live in a time in which asserting universal values may be questioned by some and under assault by others. Despite the murmuring we hear from some, there is a set of values that binds us together as Americans. Free trade, a free people and liberal democracy stand out as stalwart American values. These values are moral, they are universal, and they are the source of our greatness. For America to be not only prosperous but also deserving of prosperity, these virtues must recognize the dignity and worth of the individual and they guide individual actions. And these are the very actions that shape the character of our communities and serve as the bedrock of American civic life.
We believe that our prosperity, our unprecedented national wealth and productivity takes second place to our fundamental principles. For without the adherence to the principles of individual honesty, self-discipline and trust, there can be no industry. Without the mutual respect that flows from recognizing our individual and common responsibility, there can be no marketplace. To hold to our core American values, we must hold to our cultural heritage, strengthen our families and free them of unnecessary regulatory burden. We need to recognize the worth of the individual, value the work ethic, and support a foreign policy that undergirds men and women struggling for their religious and political freedom. It means supporting our armed forces with moral encouragement and material support.
In 1776, The Founding Fathers' great hope for the new republic was that it would mark a new beginning in human history: that Americans, in the words of Samuel Adams, would "show the eyes of mankind" that their nation "will be productive of virtue, moral and political."
It is not arrogance for this nation to cherish its heritage. It is not presumptuous for the people to value each individual as an individual human striving to be free of tyranny, and it is not intolerant for this country, with its shortcomings, to strive to be worthy of its calling. That is how I see it From This Perspective.
Dr. Robert L. Heichberger is professor emeritus at the State University of New York at Fredonia and distinguished professor at Capella University. He is an award winning author. All of the past columns can be viewed on www.fromourperspective.net/ Send comments to: Rheich@aol.com