During the presidential election of 2000, I joked to friends and family that if George W. Bush won, I’d move my small family to France, the place where my wife was born. We had had eight years of Bill Clinton’s leadership, and while our faithful leader was not perfect, he was the first Democrat I’d voted for who actually won! And we’d never lived as well under his leadership. Both of us had good jobs and loved the life we had created in the green suburbs of California.
To go back to those dark, Philistine “The rich get richer richer” Reagan days was unthinkable! So when the Supreme Court handed W his victory, we called our travel agent.
Our plane touched down at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris a week before those miscreants destroyed the Twin Towers. It was only recently, seven years after that horrific event, that I could watch a Youtube video of the disaster.
I, like most other Americans listening to this, stood dutifully beside my desk every morning in elementary school reciting the pledge of allegiance and that message was ingrained in my mind and on my young, hopeful soul.
I believe in America. I did then, and I do now. But if you are an American living abroad, you probably have another take on the events of 9/11. Yes, evil men did evil. But our responce to that evil was, I’m ashamed to say, ill-informed and just downright counter-productive. The French, and billions of others all over the globe, were weeping tears of comraderie and empathy the days and weeks following 9/11. Today, many years after that tragedy and several years of war which few people seem to understand, my country, the America I loved as a child and well-to-do young man, is now reviled in many quarters. But, even still, I believe in the US. I believe in us as a people.
I believe in the America of my childhood–a place where individual liberties are sacred, a place where people of all faiths come together to help, not hurt, others in need. Even if those people are of a different political persuasion or place or whatever.
But simple belief is not enough. If we are to continue being the country that other countries look up to, we must act. We must set an example of what a free and fair democracy is all about. We must stop stupidly squandering the enorous goodwill we’ve earned through the centuries of our greatness! We must return to our roots, that of a “helper” nation. We must quickly rebuild the foundation on which our dreams were manufactured.
The 2008 election is looming near. Important decisions must be made and soon. Who to vote for? I’m sure if I were there, back home, I’d vote for the candidate, of either party, who promised to end the war. I’d vote for the person who promised that he or she could restore our image and erase all the “bad blood” we’ve created. And I believe that if such a cadidate existed, he or she would easily win the Whitehouse. This I believe because I am American and know, inherently, our greatness and where our true value lies. It’s out there, you can almost feel it. It’s a beacon of hope and goodwill that lights the way for others following in our steps. It’s in the hearty handshake of your barber or butcher! It’s everywhere and it says, “We are more than the sum of our parts, by God, and by hook or crook, we are American and we are here to serve the good of all come hell or high water!” This I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.