The promise of America can only be fulfilled through action. The US has always been a very diverse nation, wth people coming from all across the globe and bringing their own cultures, religious, and political or personal viewpoints. Since Americans don’t all share an ethnicity or a common history, we rely on a value system to unite us -- in other words, we share an American creed. We generally agree on a few key characteristics of the American identity; we are ambitious, optimistic, individualistic, and determined. The greatest feature of this identity, however, is the way that Americans express what their personal values are by pushing for change. We sincerely believe that we can create a difference in our own nation. We can express our American creed through action by speaking up for what we believe in and fighting for that more perfect union promised in the Constitution.
America has always been a nation of rebellion. This country was founded on breaking from the status quo and daring to try something new; a land of farmers rose up against the most powerful military in the world and fought until they won. Our Founding Fathers dared to create a form of government that had never been tried before in this millennium. In a world that was still ruled by kings, they constructed a nation ruled by and for the people. It would have been easier to start with a king and try to institute democracy in other ways, like the British had done, but instead they decided to take a tremendous risk by daring to attempt an entirely new form of government. The nation that they created was not perfect or even almost perfect. It preached freedom for all while keeping Black people in chains, consistently harmed Native Americans, and explicitly oppressed women. It’s tempting to look at these failures in our history as the essence of America, but to define this country by its errors rather than its achievements is to ignore the very spirit of our nation. The American creed was lived out by the abolitionists and Union soldiers who made this a free country in reality instead of just on paper and by the enslaved people who persevered through the most inhuman treatment possible and refused to give up the fight. It was lived out by the women who bravely stated that they too were citizens and therefore entitled to the rightful privileges of American life. The spirit of America is not found in the problems and oppression -- every nation has problems and oppression. It is found in our unwillingness to settle with these issues. Americans fundamentally believe that a better world is possible, so we take action to find that future. The fundamental American value of pushing for change can be traced back to the nation’s inception, but it is also very present in more recent history.
The American creed is often defined by the way that those who were not initially granted the full rights of American citizenship push for change and inclusion. Black Americans fought for years against the oppressive system of segregation and never surrendered to the many obstacles in their path. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, John Lewis, Malcolm X, and countless others used civil disobedience in order to force change. Nowadays, we embrace these figures as unequivocal American heroes; it’s important to remember that at the time, the majority of the public was actually against their actions. People saw King and his affiliates as being too disruptive and too demanding since they embraced direct action and weren’t afraid to nonviolently disobey the law to take a stand. Americans do not just speak up against injustice when it is considered politically correct or acceptable to do so -- we do it whenever we see something that we believe is unjust. Another example of people who were traditionally denied their equal American rights fighting for equality is the LGBT community, as gay marraige was legalized nationwide only seven years ago and there is still heavy debate in most of the country regarding transgender rights. It wasn’t just the members of the minority groups that were fighting for a change -- many Americans who were not marginalized stood with these communities because they too wanted to see the American dream expanded. The Constitution promises that all men are created equal with certain unalienable rights, but it took dissatisfaction and disobedience to fulfill that statement in this nation. The way that we as a country have broadened what it means to be an American over the years exemplifies the American creed, but living our values through conscious action continues to this day.
The way that modern Americans speak up for what they believe in and continue to improve this nation exemplifies our values as a country. Although the US can often seem like a divided place, it is actually still living up to its key principles in many ways -- even though its citizens may not all agree when it comes to the problems facing the country, they do stand up for their own beliefs and take action to promote their vision of a better future. Both pro-choice and pro-life activists have utilized protest and social media in order to make their voices heard on an issue that is important to them. Even though they take opposite stances on it, they are both seeing something that they believe needs change and taking action. Those in favor of gun control put their full efforts into reducing the casualties that occur in this nation due to gun violence and try their best to make the nation safer for themselves and their posterity, while those against it take a stand for their 2nd Amendment rights and do their best to promote the classic American value of individual freedom. They don’t agree with each other, but they are both living out the creed by fighting for their beliefs. When we fight to improve our nation by utilizing our 1st Amendment rights, we are truly Americans. Our more perfect union may look different from person to person, but we all believe that it is possible to form it. The constant debate present at the heart of American culture illustrates our essential principle of taking action.
America is a complicated and constantly changing place, but that’s what makes it uniquely magical. Even when times are rough in this country, there are people fighting to make it better. The people of this nation have accepted inferior treatment or societal problems; they innovate, protest, and do what they can to fix the issue. We have never all agreed with one another -- we never will. Still, we are the same at our core because we take action for what we believe is right. I’m sure that everyone has something that they would like to see fixed in our society today; go try to fix it! After all, that’s the key component of our national character. We the people refuse to sit quietly.