When you have a free hour and a half, you may care to watch the program American Creed. The program, a PBS special, explores the unique "glue" that has bound the U.S. since its inception. Insofar as the U.S. is not a nation formed upon the history of place or by homogeneity of race, religion or ethnicity, that "glue" is, of course, aspirational. It is the promise that the U.S. is the land of opportunity, the place to be/come and exploit one's God given talents and abilities to find economic success and a healthy dose, yet not an absolute one, of personal and social liberty. Below are some of the remarks, ideas, reflections and observations from the program that resonated with me. It's an excellent program, however, and there are too many really thought provoking remarks for me to list, so don't think that because I didn't list something that I didn't think it important. For example, I wish I'd not tired of commenting prior to the lady from Wisconsin's segment. She is a veteran from smalltown America. Her comments, like so many are quite poignant. Ditto the remarks of the two individuals who founded MoveOn.org and the Tea Party; the commonality of their notions of what forms the essential fabric of America are essentially the same. Luzerne County, PA and Joe Maddon: One observes that many 19th and 20th century immigrants came to the U.S. and founded their aspirational quest by taking among the worst jobs available. Looking at immigrants today, one observes that approach remains the foundation by which many immigrants establish a foundation (1) whereby the contribute to the U.S. productivity and (2) wherefrom perhaps not they but rather their descendents can indeed realize the dream that quite simply cannot even be dreamt as residents and citizens of the place they emigrated. People used to understand that achievement, particularly economic success, is closely linked to understanding what it means to be a capitalist and managing one's professional/productive energies accordingly. Self-confidence and self-esteem (in healthy measure) is essential to that. Barriers fall in the face of shared goals. My comment : I wish I had a dime for everytime I've observed someone who's dissatisfied with their life and lifestyle and later discovered that their life has essentially been "run on autopilot." That is to say, they don't know how to or simply don't bother to comprehensively and dispassionately evaluate their situation, identify ways to, by their own efforts and innovation, directly improve it, develop a plan for to effect one or more of those modalities, and in turn execute the plan, flexing and/or amending it as needed and appropriate. Put another way, countless are the instances in which I see disaffected (in fact or in their own minds) folks hubristically commence their corrective initiatives by blaming "the other" rather than by "looking the mirror" and taking a self-inventory of their personal strengths and weaknesses and acting to mitigate their weaknesses. The moment we trust each other, we can build something. My comment: Trust is essential. It is why politically, professionally and interpersonally I care more about one's -- a politician, a business partner/colleague, a would-be friend or acquaintance -- character than I do about any specific policy s/he may espouse. Quite simply, one cannot palter or prevaricate to me about "everything under the sun" and think I'm ever going to be one's supporter or advocate; it's just not going to happen. It amazes me that everyone doesn't feel that way. Hazelton, PA and Joe Maddon (Hazleton is a town in Luzerne County) The town implemented a law its leaders claims isn't about discrimination, saying that the law is about checking to determine whether a person is legally allowed to be and work in the U.S. That is a curious claim to make insofar as there is already a federal law that prohibits and penalizes employing illegal immigrants and there is a federal law that prohibits and penalizes enabling and/or harboring illegal aliens. One need only report that one suspects an individual has enabled the arrival of, harbored or employed an illegal immigrant and the matter will be dealt with. It's as simple as adhering to the notion that "if you see something, say something."  Dr. Rice Dr. Rice's ancestry and story is that of the descendants of slaves who with grit, perseverance, sagacity, determination and education, met head-on adversity and challenges (to put it mildly) and resoundingly and unapologetically bested them. People don't immigrate to the U.S. because they want to be on social welfare. My comment: Despite Dr. Rice's remark being patently obvious, there exists a very vocal segment of society that actually believes folks come here because of our welfare system. I can only attribute to utter ignorance and intellectual torpor their accepting such a premise. Certain types of welfare regimes exhibit a tendency to choose between educational opportunities or social insurance programs as alternative policy strategies. If one is of a mind to exploit a nation's social welfare system, the U.S. is a poor choice of destinations. Classifying Welfare States: a Two-dimension Approach The inapplicability of stereotypes: Whereas in Dr. Kennedy's white Irish immigrant family he is the first person in his family to obtain a college education, Dr. Rice's grandfather earned a college degree. Data show that the U.S. is becoming less socioeconomically mobile. When that is so, the "glue" that keeps one going, the verity of the aspirational promise, falls apart, and with it the country. The aspiration and the reality will never be conjoined; there is thus always a quest to close the gap between the hope and the reality, between the goal and what the plan actually achieves, if you will. Education provides an "armor" against a host of society's, the country's, ills and barriers. Access to education changes things, and for the good, not only for oneself but also for one's descendents. You can do and be whatever you want, but you can't leave others behind. Dr. Kennedy Historically, America was long a place characterized by a cultural ethos that included a strong reticence for blaming "the other." Indeed, even in the face of the Great Depression, individuals saw the cause of their personal financial exhaustion as a matter of their poor choices and not that it was someone else's fault. My comment: (See my first bullet point above that reflects upon the cultural shift from effective goal-setting and tenacity to blaming "the other.") My comment: There's a huge difference between productively prescient consideration in the face of adversity and that of analytical hindsight. Rarely, if ever, is there much personally productive utility to finger-pointing; however, after focusing one's efforts to gainful goal setting and plan implementation, undertaking the analysis of discerning and understanding the comprehensive etiology of past events, the results of such evaluations can, for ones who heed them, be productive for avoiding bringing upon themselves the same pitfalls. That said, to obtain such an understanding one must seek it, all of it, not merely the parts of it that suit one. Truth is a demure lady, much too ladylike to knock you on your head and drag you to her cave. She is there, but people must want her, and seek her out. -- William F. Buckley, Jr. Deidre Prevett, Lindbergh Elementary School Principal and Native American We can't forget from whence we came. Learning about each other's history is important. Education is the key to success. Paying forward the advantages one one given. A child at the school remarked that "you get to decide who you want to become." My comment: Clearly the importance of goal setting is inculcated in kids, even so-called disadvantaged ones at a very young age. Something happens that results in some, too many, kids becoming adults who don't perform effective goal setting and, as a result, don't realize their American Dream. College seminar roundtable participant from Collins, MS My comment: This kid came from a very monolithic town in rural American and descended from a long line of folks who didn't finish high school and yet, there is that young man at one of the best universities in the world. Junot Diaz One's values are reflected by how they play out at one's edges, not how they manifest at one's core. What's not to love about a public library? The public library is as American as jazz. My comment: I wonder how many people these days avail themselves fully of the public library. Don't get me wrong, the Internet is a so-so alternative to it, but at the end of the day, much that one should read simply isn't available for free, and in some cases not available at all, via the Internet. Diaz described his hometown as a hodgepodge of humanity. It was also a place that reeked of society's detritus. My comment: Diaz's upbringing highlights the importance of diversity's role in one's becoming a complete human being. His upbringing is a palpable illustration of what it means to "get out more." While Diaz didn't have to go far to "get out," some of us do have to, but it is yet incumbent on us to do so. Diaz wonders how a state that incarcerates a huge share its young people for minor infractions corresponds to anything that makes that state great. My comment: I've wondered the same thing for decades, particularly with regard to our criminalizing marijuana use. I suppose there must be other behaviors that are currently criminal that should not be. It's probably worth noting that of the people sharing their thoughts, only Dr. Rice is one whom may be considered a "non-average" citizen of the U.S. All the other folks are merely folks who, like about half the U.S. population, are or have done nothing other than follow the rules of the game for achieving whatever be their American Dream. EDIT: Please don't read my comments, and those I've singled out from among the program's participants, and think of them as abstractions. While it may seem they are abstractions; they are not; they must be considered in the context of the show. For that reason, one needs to watch the program to place oneself in an informed position to remark upon the show and its central theme. Indeed, the comments above are but part of the foundational context the show provides before directly addressing its thesis. Notes: My comments are being written contemporaneously with watching the program. Readers may find that I refer to earlier comments As someone who's seen and reported things, I've learned that law enforcement personnel absolutely take seriously tips submitted by "random" citizens, even seemingly minor ones. The things I reported didn't have "call within the hour" urgency, but within a couple weeks, I received a follow-up call asking whether I had more information than what I'd submitted in my report. I didn't and insofar as the information I'd provided was documentary and could be validated via additional means, I was informed that I would most probably not be contacted again about the matter, even if the investigation into it resulted in charges being filed.