I believe that as a country we the people of the United States have a national Identity. I believe that what unites us as a whole is our differences. It is this ability to accept our differences and our shared attempt to fight for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that distinguishes us in this world.
I come from a very untraditional family. I am a clear result of the melting pot concept. My father’s Catholic family emigrated to the U.S. in the beginning of the 20th century from Croatia, escaping famine and poverty. My mother’s Jewish family escaped religious persecution in Eastern Europe by settling in the U.S. near the start of WWI. Despite their differences in religious faith, my parents somehow got married. I was baptized in a church as well as named in a temple. My holidays usually consisted of both potato latkas and Christmas cookies. This uncommon juxtaposition of faiths in my life has always seemed normal to me. Both Catholicism and Judaism have always played important parts in my life.
Early on in my life there were specific principles established in my mind. The first and single most important principle was acceptance. I was taught to believe that differences between people were not a thing to fear or hate. Half of my family believed in the tradition of the Torah while the other half believed in the teachings of Jesus Christ. They disagreed on something that was very indicative of who they were as human beings, yet they were still able to love, care for, and accept one another. Furthermore, they could love, care for, and accept me and my brother; two individuals who strangely seemed involved in both religions.
Like my family and I, I think our nation unites itself by its way of disagreeing. We all speak, act, and think differently, yet we still are able to come together as one nation. At first glance, culturally and religiously there seems to be no unifying characteristics between everyone. What becomes our identity in this world is our shared effort to continually fight for all citizens to be granted natural rights. Individually every American hopes for a place in this world were he can live freely and have an attempt at a productive and fulfilling life. We hope to live without cultural, religious, or financial oppression. These conscious ideals, not the language we speak or the holidays we celebrate, are what labels America.
I believe that we are a distinctive nation. I believe that we are unlike any place in the world; we are a country full of diversity and multi-cultural influence. Here there is a plethora of thoughts, ideas, and ways of living, that make it difficult to label our society by commonalities or traits. I believe it is the assortment of people and their differences that unites this country, and share a sense of unity in the belief of the same conscious principles.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.