THE IRON PEN by Daniel Hite

December 31, 2010

2011: Living the American Dream

Filed under: Liberty,spiritual heritage — danielhite @ 5:59 am
Tags: , , , ,

What is the American Dream? Before we can live it, we must first define it. Is there a Mexican or Canadian dream, a French or Japanese dream? I’ve never heard of anything other than the American Dream. Unlike other nations that point to their unique ancestral land, ruling class or ethnicity, shared history or religion, America has never derived her purpose and meaning from those things that have characterized other nationalities.

The American Dream is sometimes characterized as material prosperity (“a chicken in every pot”), or home ownership, or the land of opportunity. Certainly the American Dream is more than material gain or business success. There is something more that sets America apart and distinguishes her as an exception among the nations. America is exceptional because of what she stands for, not just because of what she does. America is certainly not perfect, but her ideals set the standard for not only our country, but all the world.

English writer and apologist G.K. Chesterton stated, “America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed.” America is an idea, a creed, and that is why there is an American Dream. Our creed and dream are born out of the Declaration of Independence which was written to “a candid world” subject to “the opinions of mankind.” The Declaration espouses ideas such as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” and that “all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” Notice these truths of equality are “self-evident” and apply to “all men,” not just all Americans. Jefferson called the Declaration “an expression of the American mind.” One’s mind is the stuff of which dreams are made. Our Pledge of Allegiance declares “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” These ideals are the stuff of which dreams are made. Our founding fathers knew that if this fledgling country would survive the war for independence, it would become a light to the rest of the world, even as the Statue of Liberty still symbolizes. Our dedication to these ideals bears a great responsibility for us to carry not only at home but abroad.

Finally, as we see in our Declaration creed, faith and freedom go hand-in-hand. Our inherent rights come from our Creator. In order for liberty to exist, there must also be a  moral faith. The term “creed” does have ecclesiastical overtones. Religious liberty is a hallmark of our republic, and with good reason. The Father of the Constitution, James Madison, once said:

“We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government; upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”

Faith is at the root of freedom and must be protected and nourished. These ideals are what real American’s desire, they are for what patriots live and die, and for what the signers of the Declaration committed their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. This is the dream of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, and Katherine Lee Bates:

O beautiful for patriot dream, That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam, Undimmed by human tears.
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood, From sea to shining sea.

I am praying that 2011 is the year that we Americans dream again and give expression to the ideals we hold so dearly and closely.  I am praying for a renewed reliance upon God, a spiritual awakening, and a rebirth of liberty. I am praying for America and for Americans that we live the American Dream once again.

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