Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My Greatest Moment As An American

I grew up being taught not to put too much stock in government because the institutions of this world come and go.  The belief system I was raised in and around attested that nations rise and fall.  Leaders come and go, but the world beyond this world is where we put our stock and measure.  "Lay up treasures in Heaven", not on Earth.  That is, do good deeds and lead a life extraordinary and noble.  Don't strive for contentment in a perfect home, car, job, government, bank account, etc.  Strive for an existence that lasts beyond your body itself through a life lived in service to God and fellow man.  

I still hold these beliefs.  Governments, nations, leaders come and go.  Putting stock in things that pass away will only lead to a life half lived and in great disappointment.  Therefore, I have never been too much of a nationalist.  I have respected beyond measure the sacrifices that others have made to make U.S. what it is today.  I have been enthralled with history, but I do realize that just like every other nation it will fall at some point.  It will not always be so great and mighty.  There are other nations that have remarkable histories and liberating policies.  America is not so untouchable or infallible.  

With some people I grew up with this mentality of "This place is not my home." went a step further.  They would not vote or involve themselves in any politics because Heaven was their ultimate goal.  It mattered so much to display belief that they did not regard this existence as their primary existence, that they relinquished any involvement with government whatsoever.  I could not follow this because I knew that while there may be important things to come I also knew that we were given this existence for a reason and we have the power to change the world around us.  Making this existence a better one for everyone around us is part of "laying up treasures in Heaven".  This can sometimes be done through governments and policies.  They hold the purse strings and puppet strings.  Sometimes it takes playing the game to win.  Sometimes it takes waging against the game to make a difference.  Either way, it's all political.  It cannot be avoided.

Having said this I can safely say my greatest moment as an American was last night, as I watched the man I believe will be the next great leader make his acceptance speech.  I appreciated the historical importance of the moment.  To see in my young life how far our country had finally come to elect a black man was remarkable.  To see the sea of people that came out of the woodwork to stand in line and say, "I believe in this guy." and who came out afterwards to celebrate his victory.  It was all one big confirming, "Yes.". Yes, he can be a great leader.  Yes, we need this.  Yes, we need to move on.  

I watched with the reserved understanding that he will come and go.  He will make mistakes.  I cannot not put too much stock in one human being or one nation.  Yet, every now and again there is an Abraham Lincoln, a Franklin Roosevelt, a Martin Luther King.  I can't help but think that he can be great, that he is great.  Every now and again a nation comes together for once to collectively stand behind someone or something good and right.  I can't help, but think, this is that time.  This time and it's leader will come and go, but right now I'm appreciating my greatest moment as an American.

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