What is your American creed?
To me, being American means more than just a resident of America. Being American means aligning yourself with the philosophy of the United States. In a way, from the right point of view, everyone can be counted as an American. When contemplating the big picture of American identity, ethnicity, gender, and values are all inconsequential. It is possible to count someone who believes in democracy and dignity as American because they follow American ideology.
Liberty and justice for all as stated in the Pledge of Allegiance, is an integral component of American identity. One of its main aims was to create a government that separated itself from the British empire when the Founding Fathers drafted the Constitution in 1787. In the body of the Constitution and the changes that resulted, democracy has consistently been an overarching message because the American people have understood what it is like to have restricted freedom. In the initial colonies, tyranny created unequal conditions, and Americans were mortally terrified of reliving those memories. That is why civil liberties have been created, such as freedom of expression, of the press, and of religion. As long as it doesn’t affect those in society, American individuals have the choice to do, believe in and practice whatever they want. Being an American means pursuing this principle and encouraging the protection of equality for others.
Abraham Lincoln declined an invitation to Thomas Jefferson’s birthday party and said this in his letter, “ This is a world of compensations; and he who would be no slave, must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it. All honor to Jefferson — to the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, and so to embalm it there, that to-day, and in all coming days, it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling-block to the very harbingers of re-appearing tyranny and oppression.” Lincoln knew what freedom was and had a dream that one day America would fulfill that dream.
For the last few hundred years, as the United States has evolved, so has the definition of freedom. Freedom initially encompassed white American landowners, with nobody else. Not exactly fair. The concept of equality has however, steadily evolved over time. Slowly, African Americans, females, Asians, Hispanics, and everything else in between found their way into the American community. The challenges between contemporary civilization and genuine equality are still countless, but the train of change is still chugging along. If they exist alongside those unlike them and embrace the idea of the United States as an amalgamation of rich cultures and diverse pasts, everyone can be counted as American. The United States may have been founded on injustice, but our country is becoming a more equal society as more and more people realize the wrongs of the past and strive to make amends. Without the concerns of prejudice, sexism, and discrimination, people deserve to live free, and if enough Americans accept these ideals, then this idea will become the United States. Being American means reinforcing the idea of inclusion and fostering the nation’s development as a whole.
As many other words, “American” is a big word that we use to describe a concept. However, in a single word, the rich context and past that we identify with the phrase helps one to express a sense of intent. We shall prosper only together. The U.S. is supposed to represent what we should be. To establish a new age of progress for the human race, let us be the leaders of democracy and dignity for the world.
The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. (n.d.). Retrieved 20 November 2020, from https://quod.lib.umich.edu/l/lincoln/