Tuesday, September 11, 2012

We hold these truths to be self-evident

The United States is unusual among the various nations.  Almost all the world's states define their national identities by land and genealogy - blut und boden.  What is it to be German?  You need to be born in Germany, to German parents.  Indeed, Gilbert and Sullivan parodied this in H.M.S. Pinafore:

It was an object of amusement for the European upper classes that someone might ever freely choose something other than blut und boden.  The United States is different.  What is it to be American?  It is a mental act, a choice.  All it takes is to believe in our credo:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
This is a revolutionary idea, which is perhaps unique in the World's history.  And while the old European upper classes ("The unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable," in Oscar Wilde's perfect bon mot) tittered at this American credo, it attracted the most enterprising and adventurous souls from around the world, and built the greatest power ever seen on the globe - one that saved Europe from itself not once, not twice, but three times during the past century.

On this day of infamy, we welcome a new adventurous soul to our land.  Mrs. Paul, Dammit has just sworn her oath of citizenship.  She has embraced our credo, which makes her fully American. 
And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Amen.  And welcome, Citizen.  And a note to my readers, you might stop by Paul's place to leave your own regards.
America is another name for opportunity. Our whole history appears like a last effort of divine providence on behalf of the human race.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson


Anonymous said...

So why does 40% of the electorate reject those ideals? You have an elected leader that is the antithesis of George Washington and determined to destroy you, yet you the people elected him.
I give the current republic a 50/50 chance of lasting the next ten years before needing to be replaced and the constitution seriously rewritten to avoid the clear mistakes of the last one to reign in the judiciary and Presidential branches.
However congratulations to her and may my predictions prove false.

Old NFO said...

Congrats to her! And we DO need to take our country back on Nov 6th!

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Kevin said...

I highly recommend Steven Den Beste's essay, Non-European Country from 2003.


"European "nations" are based on ethnicity, language or geography. The American nation is based on an idea, and those who voluntarily came here to join the American experiment were dedicated to that idea. They came from every possible geographic location, speaking every possible language, deriving from every possible ethnicity, but most of them think of themselves as Americans anyway, because that idea is more important than ethnicity or language or geographical origin. That idea was more important to them than the things which tried to bind them to their original nation, and in order to become part of that idea they left their geographical origin. Most of them learned a new language. They mixed with people of a wide variety of ethnicities, and a lot of them cross-married. And yet we consider ourselves one people, because we share that idea. It is the only thing which binds us together, but it binds us as strongly as any nation."


"You're French if you're born in France, of French parents. You're English if you're born to English parents (and Welsh if your parents were Welsh). But you're American if you think you're American, and are willing to give up what you used to be in order to be one of us. That's all it takes. But that's a lot, because "thinking you're American" requires you to comprehend that idea we all share. But even the French can do it, and a lot of them have."