As a nation of people from all over the planet living together in a republic with a government of the people, by the people, for the people we sometimes seem not to fully understand what that really means. If we break it down, it goes something like this:
Of the people means those who govern do not inherit their positions. Our leaders are selected from the general population of the people.
By the people means citizens are responsible for choosing those who govern. The selection process is made by the people who participate in the process.
For the people means those who are chosen to govern are required to work for the people. Not for themselves, their careers, their egos and not just for their supporters. They work FOR THE PEOPLE to provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare (meaning EVERYONE’S well being), and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and OUR posterity.
We hardly ever see ourselves as others see us. Sure, we hear that Americans are arrogant, decadent, bullies, greedy polluters and many other negative things. These remarks are all too familiar. It was interesting to hear people making comments about Americans during our visit to Italy. Most were positive, some were funny. One man asked if we owned a ranch when he found out we live in Texas. He said he has met many people from Texas and no one he has ever asked has said yes. “It’s funny,” he said, “when I travel and people find out I’m from Italy, they always ask if I make pizzas for a living or if I’m in the mafia.” We laughed; of course, stereotyping is ridiculously funny, and not surprisingly global.
Everyone we encountered during our trip was friendly to us. We chatted with people from many countries; in airports, restaurants, hotels. Not one of them was rude to us when they found out we were Americans. Every single Italian was gracious to us. I overheard two men with British accents talking on our flight from Heathrow to Rome about our upcoming presidential election. “Who do you think they’ll pick or does it really matter,” asked one of them. “I think it only matters what their president knows about foreign policy,” said the other.
As the world watches to see who we choose to lead our country, and believe me the world is watching, I wonder if after the election is over, will we decide to be the UNITED States and remember that each and every citizen contributes to the success of our nation? Our citizenry is comprised of diverse cultures. We do not all share the same beliefs or even an understanding of the difference between rights, freedoms and responsibilities. We do, however, share the desire to have our rights recognized and to enjoy freedom. Most of us try to live up to our responsibilities and most of us believe that those who don’t should, at the very least, not expect the rest of us to pay the price for their choices. I firmly believe in charity and community service. We are bound by our humanity to serve each other in times of need. I also believe that a free-loader can be dressed by Armani just as easily as the Thrift Store.
Drugs, gangs, violence, poverty, fear, greed and hypocrisy are not unique to any one country. Likewise, history is loaded with examples that these are not modern problems. What better time than now for us to work together toward a future that doesn’t just end up being virtually the past?
Sting says it best.