Looking back at the year during this holiday season, I am reminded while America is far from perfect, we still live in a pretty cool place. Seeing the staged tears film sessions in North Korea over the past few days, where if you don’t mourn publicly enough over the death of Kim Jong Il you could be arrested, is one of those reminders. Seeing women continue to be treated as possessions in the Middle East is another reason. Seeing Bashar Assad cleanse away his opposition in Syria is yet another. And, seeing the genocide continue in certain African nations is even more telling.
Our founding fathers got it mostly right when they set up and then improved our system of government. We did remedy the two major shortcomings – freedom for slaves and the right to vote for women later in our history – yet the foundation was there to build upon. Our system of governance is of greater importance than its incumbents, who bring their human frailties and biases into the mix. And, when those incumbents dishonor the positions, we should seek remedies by voting them out or advocating for their censure (or removal) if the deeds are unethical or worse.
We should embrace our freedoms and enjoy the security afforded us by our governmental construct. There is a key reason why our founding fathers have a separation of church and state. They or their forebearers escaped religious persecution in England. We should praise our freedom of religion, but must guard against letting the religious beliefs of one group overshadow the rights of another.
We should relish in our ability to have the peaceful transition of power. And, when people advocate the abuse of that peaceful transition, we should shine a spot light on them and say do you realize what you are advocating?
We should celebrate our right to question our leaders and voice our displeasure at how things are being done. Seeing people harmed, raped, tortured and killed for voicing their concerns in Syria or Egypt should make us feel grateful to live here.
We should highlight the freedoms of women as a beacon of hope. Countries that suppress women are being inhumane first and foremost, but they are suppressing the talents and ideas of half of their population. If the more important first argument fails to convince these leaders, the second argument would say you are competing in the world economy with one arm tied behind your back.
Finally, irrespective of your feelings about our President, as an African American his winning the White House is a reason to highlight the greatness of America. We have come along way since the pre-Civil Rights era. We still have a ways to go, but we are headed down the right path.
Let’s thank each of us for what we have here in America. I wish to each and everyone a safe and enjoyable holiday season and a prosperous 2012.