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The Greatness of the American People

Chad Tillner

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There is a produce store near me. It carries nice fresh fruits and vegetables pretty much direct from the growers. In the last year, twice while I've been shopping there, someone has accidentally dropped and spilled a package of fresh berries on the floor. (I believe it was raspberries in one case and blueberries in another.) Such a package is always comparatively expensive – of necessity since the berries are much more labor-intensive to pick and package, and are also extremely perishable. In both cases, as a worker at the store and I helped the embarrassed berry-dropper pick up the spilled berries, the worker suggested they take a new fresh un-dropped and undamaged package for purchase instead. (I assume this is a store policy, out of both genuine goodwill, recognition people aren’t maliciously damaging things on purpose, and perhaps some calculation that it is of more benefit to the business to absorb the cost of the occasional accident and keep its customers happy and coming back. Though really, I suspect it has more to do with genuine goodwill than Machiavellian calculation.)


But in both cases the customer insisted on taking and buying the package of berries they had dropped – feeling a sense of personal responsibility, and wanting to take ownership of their own mistake.


I'm not saying every person is always like this, but I think we mostly are. I think fair play and decency are qualities core to the American character.


Now I ask you: Does Donald Trump strike you as a pay-for-the-berries-he-dropped kind of guy?


I think part of the average American character – and certainly the character to which we aspire – is a fundamental decency, a valuing and cherishing kindness and goodwill, a respect and regard for different and divergent viewpoints and ways of approaching the myriad potentials and possibilities of life. This is one of the things that makes America so superbly and sublimely great. Yes, we'd like to get ahead, and most of us would enjoy being rich; but generally, most folks don't aspire to trampling over other people in order to get there.


Sure, we admire the moxie of go-getters, people who strive and achieve greatly. But kindness, fair play, generosity, and goodwill, the courage to stand up for what is right, and the open heartedness of wishing happiness and prosperity not only for ourselves, but for everyone – this is who, and how, and what we are. Yes, these are human characteristics as well. But from our founding, American culture has venerated and revered freedom, not as a mere pleasant convenience, but as a continuing affirmation of our belief in the beauty-keening aspirations and yearnings of the human soul. Freedom is not a mere indulgence of caprice, but an enduring investment in the goodness and greatness of the human spirit.


Consequently, a free society places its bet on basic human goodness and kindness; and our people consistently rise to that challenge. Yes, we make mistakes and we fall down; but we get back up again and again, and we strive to do justice, to do honor, and to do good.


After World War II, we did something rather remarkable. We invested a massive amount of money into rebuilding the countries we’d just fought and defeated. Generosity and foresight became one of the most excellent investments we’ve ever made. Enemies became friends; and now Germany and Japan are amongst our strongest allies.


Hillary Clinton said, “We are great because we are good.” That may sound simplistic, but I believe there is deep truth in that.


We have inherited the greatest democracy the world has ever known. Yes, we have issues, and wholly legitimate frustrations; but we still have the best government and the best system of government in the whole world. It is understandable to sometimes want to shake up the status quo. But to give executive power to a man who values so-called "strength" over freedom and "toughness" over decency, respect, and kindness, – that would be like trying to fix a computer with a baseball bat. It may be a transiently satisfying expression of rage and even may be a little cathartic for a minute. And then… And then – you have a broken computer.


I think one of the saddest things about Donald Trump is that he doesn't recognize what has made and what does make America great. And to dig deeper, he doesn't realize what makes a human being great.


America's flourishing magnificence is part and parcel of the way it honors freedom and honors each individual human spirit. Freedom is not a mere indulgence of caprice, but rather a recognition of and veneration for the magnificence and beauty of the human spirit, psyche, and soul. It realizes it is better to risk some outrages perpetrated by the discontented rather than to stultify and stifle the rich resonance of expression of millions and millions of individuals and the spirit of each and every one.


We are a land rich with different ways of thinking, diverse in culture, and exuberantly wealthy with perspectives. We have an extravagantly disproportionate share of the best and brightest beings on planet Earth, because our commitment to freedom offers extraordinary opportunity.


The United States is not a business, nor should it be run like one. The United States of America is a commitment to the majestic greatness of the human soul and its most flourishing free expression.


The First Amendment of the United States Constitution is a love song to freedom of mind. Freedom of speech. Freedom of the press. Freedom of religion. The right to assemble peaceably and petition the government for redress of grievances. These are statements of belief in the greatness of the human spirit. This is an enduring commitment to each individual’s voice, and the value and validity thereof. This is a celebration of disparate ways of being, and different approaches to the question of how one should live one’s life.


To consistently vilify all disagreeing views, to threaten and seek to squelch opposing opinions and varied voices – this would be impoverishing the hybrid vigor of our nation, and a dimming of the light of freedom.


We are a generous and great people. We have the courage to allow those with different ideas the space and freedom to try their truths and travel their own paths. We are not greedy misers looking to grub every last penny from the rest of the world at the expense of goodwill. We care about the general and specific well-being of others, and we have the intelligence to look beyond immediate gratification in order to bequeath a better world to our children and the generations thereafter.


The greatness of the American people is in our kindness and the generosity of our hearts. This is how we came to value freedom in the first place.


The American people are better than Donald Trump.



by Chad Tillner
 

there4eyeM

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Nice sentiments and good perspective on many points.
It reflects the quasi-religious regard Americans have for their country.
Reality, like everything human, is relative. To say America is 'good' is to use the term poetically. When we look at this current election cycle, we are hard-put to see any objective reason to think America is much different from any other multi-shade-of-gray nation, full of defects and hypocrisy.
The U.S. could have been and should have been much better than is was. It can still be greater than it is, but neither of the two-party dictatorship's candidates will make it so. The lamentable alternatives are so bad that there should be some other name for it than 'choice'.
History will not be kind.
 

IsaacNewton

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There is a produce store near me. It carries nice fresh fruits and vegetables pretty much direct from the growers. In the last year, twice while I've been shopping there, someone has accidentally dropped and spilled a package of fresh berries on the floor. (I believe it was raspberries in one case and blueberries in another.) Such a package is always comparatively expensive – of necessity since the berries are much more labor-intensive to pick and package, and are also extremely perishable. In both cases, as a worker at the store and I helped the embarrassed berry-dropper pick up the spilled berries, the worker suggested they take a new fresh un-dropped and undamaged package for purchase instead. (I assume this is a store policy, out of both genuine goodwill, recognition people aren’t maliciously damaging things on purpose, and perhaps some calculation that it is of more benefit to the business to absorb the cost of the occasional accident and keep its customers happy and coming back. Though really, I suspect it has more to do with genuine goodwill than Machiavellian calculation.)


But in both cases the customer insisted on taking and buying the package of berries they had dropped – feeling a sense of personal responsibility, and wanting to take ownership of their own mistake.


I'm not saying every person is always like this, but I think we mostly are. I think fair play and decency are qualities core to the American character.


Now I ask you: Does Donald Trump strike you as a pay-for-the-berries-he-dropped kind of guy?


I think part of the average American character – and certainly the character to which we aspire – is a fundamental decency, a valuing and cherishing kindness and goodwill, a respect and regard for different and divergent viewpoints and ways of approaching the myriad potentials and possibilities of life. This is one of the things that makes America so superbly and sublimely great. Yes, we'd like to get ahead, and most of us would enjoy being rich; but generally, most folks don't aspire to trampling over other people in order to get there.


Sure, we admire the moxie of go-getters, people who strive and achieve greatly. But kindness, fair play, generosity, and goodwill, the courage to stand up for what is right, and the open heartedness of wishing happiness and prosperity not only for ourselves, but for everyone – this is who, and how, and what we are. Yes, these are human characteristics as well. But from our founding, American culture has venerated and revered freedom, not as a mere pleasant convenience, but as a continuing affirmation of our belief in the beauty-keening aspirations and yearnings of the human soul. Freedom is not a mere indulgence of caprice, but an enduring investment in the goodness and greatness of the human spirit.


Consequently, a free society places its bet on basic human goodness and kindness; and our people consistently rise to that challenge. Yes, we make mistakes and we fall down; but we get back up again and again, and we strive to do justice, to do honor, and to do good.


After World War II, we did something rather remarkable. We invested a massive amount of money into rebuilding the countries we’d just fought and defeated. Generosity and foresight became one of the most excellent investments we’ve ever made. Enemies became friends; and now Germany and Japan are amongst our strongest allies.


Hillary Clinton said, “We are great because we are good.” That may sound simplistic, but I believe there is deep truth in that.


We have inherited the greatest democracy the world has ever known. Yes, we have issues, and wholly legitimate frustrations; but we still have the best government and the best system of government in the whole world. It is understandable to sometimes want to shake up the status quo. But to give executive power to a man who values so-called "strength" over freedom and "toughness" over decency, respect, and kindness, – that would be like trying to fix a computer with a baseball bat. It may be a transiently satisfying expression of rage and even may be a little cathartic for a minute. And then… And then – you have a broken computer.


I think one of the saddest things about Donald Trump is that he doesn't recognize what has made and what does make America great. And to dig deeper, he doesn't realize what makes a human being great.


America's flourishing magnificence is part and parcel of the way it honors freedom and honors each individual human spirit. Freedom is not a mere indulgence of caprice, but rather a recognition of and veneration for the magnificence and beauty of the human spirit, psyche, and soul. It realizes it is better to risk some outrages perpetrated by the discontented rather than to stultify and stifle the rich resonance of expression of millions and millions of individuals and the spirit of each and every one.


We are a land rich with different ways of thinking, diverse in culture, and exuberantly wealthy with perspectives. We have an extravagantly disproportionate share of the best and brightest beings on planet Earth, because our commitment to freedom offers extraordinary opportunity.


The United States is not a business, nor should it be run like one. The United States of America is a commitment to the majestic greatness of the human soul and its most flourishing free expression.


The First Amendment of the United States Constitution is a love song to freedom of mind. Freedom of speech. Freedom of the press. Freedom of religion. The right to assemble peaceably and petition the government for redress of grievances. These are statements of belief in the greatness of the human spirit. This is an enduring commitment to each individual’s voice, and the value and validity thereof. This is a celebration of disparate ways of being, and different approaches to the question of how one should live one’s life.


To consistently vilify all disagreeing views, to threaten and seek to squelch opposing opinions and varied voices – this would be impoverishing the hybrid vigor of our nation, and a dimming of the light of freedom.


We are a generous and great people. We have the courage to allow those with different ideas the space and freedom to try their truths and travel their own paths. We are not greedy misers looking to grub every last penny from the rest of the world at the expense of goodwill. We care about the general and specific well-being of others, and we have the intelligence to look beyond immediate gratification in order to bequeath a better world to our children and the generations thereafter.


The greatness of the American people is in our kindness and the generosity of our hearts. This is how we came to value freedom in the first place.


The American people are better than Donald Trump.



by Chad Tillner
Beautifully and elegantly written. I can't add to that.
 

CrusaderFrank

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Trump is far more generous than you'll ever know.

Hillarys only concern has been Hillary, she even stole from the relief effort for Haiti.

Trump IS the definition of American success. He failed several times but kept getting himself off the canvas until his success was permanent.
 

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