Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Dream that is America

Last night when "God Bless America" was sung during the 7th inning stretch of the baseball game, I found myself moved with emotion. It was not anything specific, nor did I consciously understand what brought on the emotion. The emotion came first and made me consider it.

My reaction reminded me of the premise of Start With Why, the premise that great institutions and leaders define a purpose that connects with us at an emotional level. When we have an emotional connection, we use reason to rationalize the beliefs that the emotions inspire. 

For me, "God Bless America" brought on the emotion of pride: pride in America, pride at being an American. This started me thinking about all of the things that I have to be proud and grateful for as an American. We are very fortunate to live in a country of great freedoms and opportunities. We all can pursue our dreams, strive to better ourselves, and live amazing lives. There is opportunity for anyone who chooses to dream and pursue those dreams. Also, many in our society serve a greater purpose. We selflessly serve our communities, our country, and those who are less fortunate. I believe that this call to serve others stems from an emotional connection to the liberties and values of America.

I believe that much of our greatness can be traced to our founders and the pivotal changes in human history that they started. America was created based upon ideals that were different from all other societies and governments that had preceded it. Yes, the values of America built upon earlier movements such as the proclamations in Magna Carta, but America is a grand experiment in a belief in human potential and human decency.

The Declaration of Independence states these ideals well: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness may seem obvious today, but at the time they were novel ideals. What has and what will continue to make America great is that we strive to create a society where the laws of man are consistent with the greater laws of God. The dream that is America is a core belief in human potential and human decency. For me, this belief provides an emotional connection that inspires me to live a worthy and honorable life. God Bless America!

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