America the Beautiful
by Zachary A. Horn
The hawks squawk and the doves quake. Darkness rises in the East like a memory from the last century. After the long lull of peace following the second World War, Americans have forgotten that there is darkness in the world, and that we were once the light.
America the bold. America the beautiful. Those words mean something to me. I am often critical of the United States. I fear for her. I fear that she has lost her way, lost her identify, and forgotten what made her the envy of the world. But I nevertheless find an unshakeable love for her – and an attachment and rootedness that goes beyond retail patriotism.
My family was among the first to settle this country, and for nine generations we have made it our home. I still feel a connectedness to the European cultures that came before their immigration, but I have always seen in America the realization of the promise of those cultures. America sprang forth from the Enlightenment with the hope and promise of fulfilling the best instincts of that era, free from the dysfunction and darkness of the past.
So when I criticize my country, I do so with love. I do so knowing she is capable of so much more than she has become. She is mine, and I am hers. I do not view my citizenship as transient, nor my fate as separable. We shall rise or fall together. America will realize the promise of her founding, or become another crumbling Empire to be relegated to the ashes of history; but I will be here, striving for a better tomorrow, until my flesh returns to the ground from which it sprang.
It has become all too fashionable to resent ones citizenship. The mark of education and culture has come to mean holding America in contempt. The endless criticisms come drolly, all in the comfort of the freedom being an American guarantees. These professional critics speak of America with detachment, as a thing they have no vested interest in, as though they just happen to live here and her fate is separate from their own.
I say to the professional critics, you are not separate from this country. You are this country, and you lose your right to criticize her the moment you stop seeing yourself as such. Turn your words into actions my friends. In many cases your criticisms are well founded. I do not find fault with your words. I would fight and die for your right to say them, regardless of their content. What I find fault with is your disengagement, your apathy, and lack of action. If every droll criticism were followed by an action to change this country for the better, America would soon be the bold and beautiful light of the world she was always meant to be.
We will once more be called to defend the light of Western Civilization. Darkness looms in the East, and we must rediscover our soul. We are not Despots. We do not spy on our own. We respect personal liberty, the right to self-determination, and human dignity above all else. That is the promise of this land, and that is the light we must bear and defend.