No, I don’t mean the amusement parks, although they are great….
We Americans like to say that we “live in the greatest country in the world”, but what do we mean my that?
What do you mean when you say it?
Politicians like to use the phrase. Donald Trump ran on a slogan of “make America great again!” Hillary Clinton liked to counter that “America was already great, we just need to make her greater.” But when they use the word “great”, what do they mean?
Some such as Atlantic Magazine imply that Trump’s referencing America’s greatness was referencing making it “white again”. Maybe. No doubt some of his supporters took it that way…or at least a call back to a time that we hold in our imaginations when our lives were slower or simpler or we felt as if we had more power or control.
Did Trump say what he meant by the phrase? I’m not sure he did. The closest I can find is his “action plan to make America great again“, his “contract with the American voter”. As I read this, even though I did not support Trump I can find a lot of these actions that I agree with…..any many that I don’t. Does this mean that my sense of a “great America” is different from Trump’s? I know that we may differ on specific policies as this plan clearly indicates…..but I am still not sure what exactly Trump means by a great America.
This is not just a question of semantics. It is a question of vision. Recently, Trump just announced that his campaign theme will be the theme of his inauguration in a call to national unity. I’m all for national unity that still honors our differences. But still what does a great American mean to him? Maybe we will find out in his speech?
What do you think are the characteristics of such a place?
To me, a “Great America” incorporates the following things:
Every person in the country is treated with dignity and respect and has access to all of the following factors no matter what their race, country of origin, political beliefs, sexual orientation, religious/spiritual beliefs, sex, income level may be.
That the personal protections outlined in our constitution are provided to all people.
That all our governments (national, state, local and especially our justice system) work fairly for all people.
That everyone has their basic needs (food, water, shelter, protection from harm) met.
That everyone has the right and access to receive a good education.
That everyone has access to a good job that pays a decent pay that you can easily live on.
That everyone has access to high quality and affordable health care.
That everyone has access to highspeed internet at a reasonable cost.
That everyone has the opportunity to succeed and thrive in their lives.
That everyone is free to believe what they wish about the meaning of their life.
That our shared commons (parks, forests, rivers, lakes, roads, bridges, air to breath, broadcast airwaves and more) are maintained and available to all people now and in the future.
That everyone has access to voting and having their voice heard in our democracy.
That we develop and maintain peaceful and friendly relationships with the other countries of the world.
That we serve as the model for the world for personal rights, democracy and peace.
OK. That’s my list for the moment….but I am still thinking on this question.
Finally, as I write this I cannot help but consider (in what may look like a shameless plug, sorry!) that in my book Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities, I outlined 5 rights and 2 responsibilities that I felt that belonged to all people everywhere. Here is a link to a page that describes them. Is there something here that needs to be considered as well in a “Great America”?
So I ask you….What would you add or change in regards to the above list of a “Great America”? What is a “Great America” to you? For that matter, what is a “great world”?
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