“I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life…. And how stands the city on this winter night? … After 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true to the granite ridge and her glow has held no matter what storm. And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.” President Reagan Farewell Address, 1989
Congressman Trey Gowdy gave a speech recently to a group of young men about America and leadership. It’s not a political speech, but one of the best speeches I have heard in quite some time. No matter what a person’s political views may be, this speech is something I wish every natural born American would listen to and think about.
Why is it important? Because he gives examples of people who have escaped their country to come to America and then offers to the young men in the audience, “You need to ask yourself why this country is chosen more than every other country combined… Why this country. What is different about us?”
Everyone’s story and answer is different. None of us who come to the United States come for the exact same reasons, although all come largely in part for one thing: freedom. What “Freedom” means to those coming from other nations may differ: freedom to work, freedom to live without fear, freedom to raise a family. Even coming from a friendly and free country such as Canada, I find more freedom here–or seemingly more freedom. Of course, maintaining that freedom depends on whether we as a nation choose to fight for those freedoms or let them slip away through our Governments’ ever expanding reach.
Congressman Gowdy said his answer for why people come here is because of our nation of laws. And he is right. The one thing everyone knows about America is that America’s Constitutional laws keep rights equal and fair for all. People from all corners of the earth understand that the U.S. Constitution is sacred to Americans because as the longest running Law, it gives the people rights that no one–including the Government–can infringe upon. Our laws are fair. People might argue otherwise, for yes, ratifications had to be made to make all people equal according to race and gender. Yet still our Constitution is what sets us apart from other nations, and it will continue to do so as long as our government and nation’s citizens treat it as it was intended: to secure and protect our God given rights from government.
To American citizens, “Freedom” and “rights” mean different things than they do to those coming from other countries. Somehow, more and more Americans have grown to believe that Freedom and rights come from government, and that God- granted natural rights are synonymous with civil rights. They are not the same thing. Civil rights are additional rights granted by government. Natural rights are rights granted to all humanity for all time- the right to think, to work, to pursue dreams, to be free from harm, to defend oneself; the right to speak, to worship or not, the right to conscience. All of these rights are inherent, inalienable from a source higher than man–and even if one doesn’t believe in God, they can still understand these are natural inalienable rights. Social justice and civil rights are rights fought for by people to have the government recognize them. That is an entirely different topic for another article so I won’t go into detail; but when one thinks of a personal right for something which is actually a civil right, that usually ends up infringing on someone else’s natural right of conscience. Whether or not people agree, our natural rights should always trump the civil right because in other nations, even countries like Canada, people are losing their right to speak or think. Those are rights that no one should ever give up freely, yet it is happening here in the U.S. more and more. We all have the right to agree or disagree and we have the right to choose what we say, but we don’t have the right not to be offended.
The Constitution’s Bill of Rights is also what sets America apart from any other nations. Benjamin Franklin once said, “The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” That is what immigrants from all over the world have been doing since the day America became a nation.
I have a neighbor who came here from Communist Poland. She remembers growing up under the communist system, and considers herself blessed and lucky to have been able to escape as a young lady to the United States. She knows what oppression, government created poverty and violence is–and she sees that a lot of political ideologies coming out of our government have too many similarities to what she witnessed and learned about while growing up. It makes her afraid to see it happening here.
When considering writing this, I asked a good friend of mine who came here from Ireland, what he thought about the United States. He said,
“Sure I loved the idea of coming to America.Growing up, I watched a lot of US TV shows. I have loved and do love being here. The people I met were friendly and kind and made me feel welcome. Before I came, I was fighting against Illegal Immigrants coming into Britain and Ireland so I was well aware of the kinds of dangers and illnesses they can carry as well as how they can twist a culture in a desire to recreate their own home culture here. I fought against that kind of immigrant then and I still do now. I felt at home in the America I arrived in. I never saw so many people displaying the flag in Ireland, once I came here, the flag seemed to be everywhere and I loved seeing it.”
He mentioned that he sees the same things happening here as he saw in Ireland and Great Britain with so many immigrants changing the culture, and like many of us who have come to live in the United States, we are sad to see so many Americans accepting changes which are only diminishing America’s uniqueness and suppressing her history and Christian heritage.
After I had posted a comment about Trey Gowdy’s speech, a friend asked me what I had to say about coming to the U.S. I told him that although I never planned on coming to America, I respected the strength and people, the exceptional way Americans have always been like the protective older brother, the one other nations could always depend on for help. America was always the breadbasket of the world, the most generous and the strongest. I thought before I came here, and I still believe that our Troops and Veterans are the best, and are always ready not only to sacrifice everything for America, but also for oppressed people around the world. I will always be grateful to them for preserving freedom for so many in other countries, and for us.
Once my plans were laid to come to America, I was excited and tried to learn more about some of the people of history who I grew up hearing about–and once I came here, I found that some of those people were made real by the way others lived. I believe that America has always been a beacon of light and strength, goodness and fairness to the world and my heart is broken that so many leaders in Washington as well as born-and-raised citizens, now think America is a bully which needs transformation.
The United States does not need transformation. Those Americans who were privileged to have been born and raised here need to look at their country through the eyes of Immigrants and learn to respect and fall in love with their heritage and country once again.