Just Me

Just Me
Look,I'm just sayin'

Saturday, August 13, 2016

action, not heritage

 One glib comment and a discussion begins. Seems like that is the way of it for me a great deal of the time. I try, I really try not to respond to certain postings but fail miserably. I just can't help it. Yesterday was no exception. I saw a posting about the U.S. Women's gymnastic team. The posting was pointing out that they were African-Americans, Jewish-Americans, Puerto Rican-Americans, White-Americans and being coached by a Romanian-American. Whereas it is a valid observation my comment was simply, " I would prefer them called " American " women.
 I admit this response was elicited by the statement from the original post saying, " this is who is making America great again " a thinly veiled reference to Donald Trump. Now I don't support Donald Trump in any fashion whatsoever but my point was a simple one. It is Americans that make America great. I received a response almost immediately saying she felt the post labeled them that way to show diversity and the American at the end to show unity. From that, the discussion began.
 I know the other person responding to my comment. I also know she is a very cordial person and it was safe to discuss the topic with her. We are often at odds in the political arena. It is discussion however and not an attempt to bash each other. She does make me think and I appreciate that.
 And so I presented the basis for my " argument. " I feel as though all this hyphenated American stuff is contributing to the division in this country. I believe we should all be Americans first. Why does someone choose to emigrate ? To go to a better place is the simple answer. That is the bottom line isn't it ? In doing so shouldn't you assimilate to that culture ? If you don't want to be an American, what are you doing in America ? But that is too basic isn't it ? We have our cultural pride. We wish to display that pride. That is the problem however. We use that heritage to quantify ourselves. What we should be using is our actions, not a heritage. The primary reason to use a quantifier is to do what ? To create a distinction. That is its' sole purpose. When it comes to race, most times, it is obvious and really doesn't require that quantifier. Using your religion to quantify yourself serves what purpose ? To separate yourself from the majority of Americans ( in this context ) Christians. One Gallup poll shows that 77% of Americans are Christian or identify themselves as Christians. Incidentally we don't identify ourselves as Christian-Americans. No, we are just Americans. All of us have emigrant roots ! Every single one of us. So, why this emphasis on that heritage ? My view is, to gain advantage in some fashion. It is either to elicit sympathy or to " qualify " for one thing or another.
 I believe that if we quit labeling each other, or self identifying as the jargon goes today, we would foster a climate of unity rather than one of division. The reason is a simple one to understand. We all know who we are, what our heritage and roots are. We all know who we believe ourselves to be, good, honest, hard working folks that just want equal footing in this world. The reality is, you are what other folks label you ! Let that sink in. You are what others say you are. Whether that is fair and just is not the point, it is a reality. All this, I am a, ( fill in the blank,) American does nothing to foster acceptance. It is more of a, " in your face " attitude. Personally I really don't care what your religious beliefs are, I can usually guess at your race. What I do care about is who you are. I need to get to know you before that can happen. Your religion or your race should not be your identifier !
You know what I want ? I want you to be an American. That's all. The big question, the white elephant in the room so to speak, is identifying just what an American is. To me, it is far more than someone that lives in the United States.
 First and foremost I believe Americans are all religions and races. Wasn't that the founding principle behind this republic ? Independent peoples yearning to be free and all that. That the majority of them were Christian is a matter of history. Of course, even that is debated today but that is another discussion altogether. Most Europeans were Christian, nothing discriminatory about that. Religion, like politics incite strong emotions. The founders of the Republic knew it, hence separation of church and state. Americans have always been free to practice their religion or not, as they saw fit. Should we now begin to identify ourselves as Methodist-Americans or Episcopal-Americans ?  Should I proclaim myself to be an Atheist-American ? Is one more American than another ? In Ireland the protestants and Catholics have been feuding for centuries. Is one more Irish than the other ?
 It is also a fact that the majority of the founders of this nation were white folks. Well that is because they were Europeans. Simple as that. They had the means and the money. Nothing much changes in the world. Those with the means and the money usually get their way. Yes, those same Europeans enslaved their fellow man. They were not the first to do so and the practice continues till this day. Oh the last place to make it illegal occurred in 2007 but the practice continues, thinly veiled. It doesn't justify their actions then or excuse it today. Still,  in the big picture people of color were not excluded from being Americans. No where was it ever written that you had to be white or Christian.
 So just what is an American ? An American is Independent, not dependent. An American is not dependent upon his religion, his race, or anything else to gain an advantage. Some of us are American by birthright ! That includes all religions and all races. If you are born here, you are an American. With that birthright comes obligation. You owe your country allegiance, your country does not owe you a thing. America has always welcomed those seeking a new life. You are welcome to become an American ! The only caveat is that you are solely American. 
The following United States Oath of Citizenship must be taken by all immigrants who wish to become naturalized citizens of the United States:
I hereby declare, on oath,
  • that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen;
  • that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic;
  • that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;
  • that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law;
  • that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law;
  • that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law;
  • and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.
In acknowledgement whereof I have hereunto affixed my signature.
It doesn't say you will be an African-American, or Muslim-American or any thing other than a naturalized citizen of the United States of America ! Notice it doesn't say you become an American. That is because that is up to you. It is an Independent action. So, I say quit this creating division and distinction. Let's all be Americans and as Americans we can solve our differences rather than just label them.