I’m currently reading The Audacity of Hope by Barrack Obama, and, although I’m less than 100 pages into the book, I find myself filled with just that: hope. There are already several moments where I’ve stopped reading to ponder the powerful message I’ve just read. I’m very late to this book. It’s been published for quite some time now, and we all know the history that followed it’s publishing. When, for left-minded people, America was in a haze of good fortune. And, having watched Mr. Obama throughout the campaigns, as well as governing the country, I see the roots of the message he spread typed onto the pages of this book: hope. Hope in an America that focuses on what makes us the same rather than what makes us different. Hope in an America that realizes it’s potential can only be measured by how much opportunity is afforded our poorest Americans. Hope in an America that reaches across political divide to grasp hands and walk forward together. Hope in an America that refuses to let dogma and ideology get in the way of American values. Hope in a people who love their country, and rather than expecting from American, can be expected to give to America.
I’ve written before about why I don’t hate America, and this book is making love America even more now than I did when I wrote that entry. Why? How? How can I love a country whose political leaders spin alternative facts? How can I love a country that seems to be plummeting back to the 19th Century? How can I see hope in a future when the clouds above us are so dark? The how is easy–hope. Hope that despite the trials left-minded individuals are facing in the current political climate, and despite the fact that America still seems more focused on ideology rather than values we are still Americans. All of us. Hope that Americans remember that America is great, and has always been great, and doesn’t need be made great again.
I just got back from a week in the UK, and while enjoying the majesty of that country and the sights to see, I learned a great deal about my own country, and grew to love her even more. I learned that we have most definitely inherited from our mother country a refusal to let the ‘bad guys’ win. The terrible tragedy on Westminster bridge happened a week before we arrived, and, as one cab driver put it, “London was a little weird the next day, but the day after that we Londoners got up and kept going. We won’t let them win. We have to just keep going.” This dogged resilience came across the pond and helped us through Pear Harbor, 9/11, the Oklahoma City bombings, a barrage of school shootings, and much more. America may take a shot on the chin, but we won’t stay down long.
We also inherited the pride they have in their nation. They’re ENGLISH and proud of it, as they should be, just as we are AMERICANS, and proud of it, just as we should be. I could sense that pride. So many of their historical places are tourist traps, but the simple fact that people from all over the world come there to visit them should and does illicit a sense of pride. I stood in awe of them, and they knew it, and while I may be projecting that onto them, I could sense their pride in my awe. At a dinner, the husband of an English friend of mine said that America should be proudest of the ideal of the American dream. That we should be proud of the dream of something better, the dream that fueled Manifest Destiny. I’m not denying that Manifest Destiny had many, many, MANY faults, but the dream behind it is something that maybe we should be proud of: that we can endure the hardest of hardships and thrive.
Final thoughts: one, read this book! Two, remember that our differences are what make us great. Three, be proud of our country, even now, be proud of what she stands for. Finally, if and when someone disagrees with you, revel in the fact that we can have that disagreement without consequence, and that that disagreement, that freedom of dissent, is what truly makes us great.