Who we are

Published 9:01 am Friday, April 10, 2009

I see it in the hundreds of e-mails I get a week. ‘I worry about our future’, they say. Some are talking about their immediate future — their jobs, their mortgages, their businesses. Others are talking about the future of America. Some are specific, some are general.

But you don’t have to read my e-mail to see it. It is everywhere: weariness and worry.

America is weary from the relatively sudden realization that what we silently, and perhaps reflexively, relied on is not as stable as we thought — the worth of our home, our plan for retirement, the permanence of our job. Over the last year, even on the best of days and even for those of us in the best of circumstances, we carry weariness.

This week, I found myself wondering: “Has the best of America passed us by?” After all, look at where we are today. Americans today enjoy the finest quality of life.

At a time when it seems so hard to believe in ourselves, it’s important to take a look at where we have been in the last 200 years. From a nation of immigrants and frontiersmen traveling with all of their worldly possessions, we become the wealthiest nation in the world. From a group of 13 loosely-affiliated colonies, we became the oldest continuing democracy in the world.

We are the people that invented the light bulb, the telephone, the computer and the artificial heart. We are the people that pioneered the automobile, the train, and the airplane. We put a man on the moon. We discovered DNA. We built the finest universities, a rich and robust legal system, and a vibrant and enduring political process. We have vast natural resources, highly productive farmlands, and astonishingly diverse cultures. We built baseball out of immigrant traditions and the internet out of dorm rooms. We are free to worship, free to speak, free to assemble. We are extraordinary.

How did we become the greatest nation in the world?

It was our people. It was our ingenuity, our hard work.

The American people have a brilliant and enduring history of overcoming challenge. We — the people — are our greatest hope for the future. It is our ingenuity and hard work that will rebuild our economy.

We may worry about the America of today, but we believe in the America of tomorrow. We are not the generation that will look into the eyes of our children and say, “The best has passed us by”.

It is not our nature. It is not who we are. It is not American.