Stop Apologizing for America
Note: Please watch and share a powerful video version of this essay (a collaborative CatholicVote/Radiance Foundation effort) that celebrates America and promotes unity.
Dividing people is always easy. All it takes is a lie dressed up in a hashtag. Uniting people is never easy. It takes a lot of work, a lot of listening, and a lot of learning. It takes humility and honesty. It requires context that brings clarity. And it’s worth every effort.
We live in the United States of America. From sea to shining sea we are the most diverse, most charitable, most unique nation in the world. In America passion and perseverance transform poverty into Oprahs, refugees into Albert Einsteins, and Holocaust survivors into Nobel Laureates like Elie Wiesel. It’s why more flock to this great country from around the globe than any other country on earth.
Stop apologizing for America. This is the place where justice rolls down like a mighty river, where impossible dreams do come true, and blood-bought freedom is as precious as the air we breathe. This is the place where we can put our faith into action and speak freely because we have a Constitution like none other. Even former slaves such as Frederick Douglass, once shackled by the Law, praised our founding document saying: “…the Constitution is a glorious liberty document.”
It’s the place where even “biracial” adoptees like Colin Kaepernick–adopted and loved by white parents—can become a multimillion dollar athlete and activist.
I was adopted and loved into a multiethnic tribe of fifteen. Ten of us were rescued, chosen and cherished by two parents who should never—for a moment—feel any collective (fake) guilt. Their selfless love changed our individual fragility into family.
We are the United States of America. And we can’t breathe in the smoldering ruins of anarchy and violence. Too many have sacrificed their very lives to free us from the chains of injustice for anyone to be forced to or willingly wear those shackles. We thrive when we embrace the truths that are self-evident: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
This Land of Opportunity makes people like Dr. Ben Carson possible, once a young child who grew up in poverty with his single mom. She was determined that her sons would not be victims, but victors. He became a world renowned pediatric neurosurgeon who has given millions in scholarships to students across the country. (His brother, Curtis, became a mechanical engineer in the aerospace industry.)
It makes success stories like Cathy Hughes, possible. She’s an African-American woman who, despite an unplanned pregnancy as a teen, founded the hugely successful Urban One media network. She rejected aborting her son and chose to be stronger than her circumstances, saying: “I became an entrepreneur because of him”.
Or, how about Kalpana Chawla, an Indian-born immigrant who became an American citizen and the first woman of Indian ethnicity in space?
It’s the triumph of David Green, who grew up in poverty but understood the power of giving. Through lots of hard work, grit and a passionate Christian faith he turned a craft business that began in his kitchen into a multi-billion business that enables his vast philanthropy—Hobby Lobby.
We have so much to celebrate in these United States of America where our national creed is centered on the truth that we’re all created equal. The strength of our humanity is revealed in how we care for the weakest among us, in and out of the womb. It shines when we see each other as humans with the same inherent and irrevocable worth.
Red. Yellow. Black. Brown. And White. Left. Middle. And Right. We rise together. Or we fall together.
Let’s rise. Let’s stand for the country that is still the beacon of hope to the world. Let’s feed ourselves, daily, not with the bitter division dished out by our news media but with the nourishing work of our churches, our community organizations, and the joy that comes from loving our neighbors as ourselves. Our solutions are not political. They’re deeply personal…moral…spiritual. When we truly are one nation under God, we can be indivisible.
America. We haven’t even seen our best days yet.
So, stop apologizing. And start uniting.