What is Right About America


In the Name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate

A few weeks back, my neighbor sent me this excerpt from a Romaninan newspaper, Evenimentulzilei, that was published several years ago. The article, called “Ode to America,” was written by Mr. Cornel Nistorescu. Although I have not seen the actual article, it is all over the Internet. If indeed written, it is a very interesting view of America from abroad, which many think is negative.

~An Ode to America ~

Why are Americans so united? They would not resemble one another even if you painted them all one color! They speak all the languages of the world and form an astonishing mixture of civilizations and religious beliefs.

Still, the American tragedy turned three hundred million people into a hand put on the heart. Nobody rushed to accuse the White House, the Army, or the Secret Service that they are only a bunch of losers. Nobody rushed to empty their bank accounts. Nobody rushed out onto the streets nearby to gape about. Instead the Americans volunteered to donate blood and to give a helping hand. After the first moments of panic, they raised their flag over the smoking ruins, putting on T-shirts, caps and ties in the colors of the national flag. They placed flags on buildings and cars as if in every place and on every car a government official or the president was passing. On every occasion, they started singing: ‘God Bless America!’

I watched the live broadcast and rerun after rerun for hours listening to the story of the guy who went down one hundred floors with a woman in a wheelchair without knowing who she was, or of the Californian hockey player, who gave his life fighting with the terrorists and prevented the plane from hitting a target that could have killed other hundreds or thousands of people.

How on earth were they able to respond united as one human being?Imperceptibly, with every word and musical note, the memory of some turned into a modern myth of tragic heroes. And with every phone call, millions and millions of dollars were put into collection aimed at rewarding not a man or a family, but a spirit, which no money can buy. What on earth can unite the Americans in such a way? Their land? Their history? Their economic Power? Money? I tried for hours to find an answer, humming songs and murmuring phrases with the risk of sounding commonplace, I thought things over, I reached but only one conclusion… Only freedom can work such miracles.

It is a very inspiring article, and it highlights what is right about America. There is a lot of talk about what is wrong about America lately. Indeed, there are a lot of things in America that need fixing. Yet, still, I truly believe that, at its core, our country is fundamentally good. At their core, our people are a fundamentally good people.

What almost brought tears to my eyes was this phrase in the article:

I watched the live broadcast and rerun after rerun for hours listening to the story of the guy who went down one hundred floors with a woman in a wheelchair without knowing who she was, or the Californian hockey player, who gave his life fighting with the terrorists and prevented the plane from hitting a target that could have killed others hundreds or thousands of people.

That is what is right about America: how, in the face of adversity, we all come together as a people and help each other. I still remember the overwhelming fear I felt in the days and weeks after September 11, 2001. I still remember the fear that people will attack us Muslims in the streets; that they would storm our mosques; that they would attack our schools. In fact, we closed the Islamic school at which my wife taught and my daughter attended as a precaution.

But no large scale attacks came. No large scale storming of mosques. No large scale backlash, even though more than 1,000 Muslim men were rounded up, and there were dozens of individual incidents of attacks and hate crimes directed at Muslims. Yet, for the most part, American Muslims were safe. In fact, many non-Muslim Americans reached out to their Muslim neighbors, helping to calm their fears in a very fearful, nervous time. That is what is right about America.

Yes, America can always do better. There is still bigotry in this country, especially against Muslims. So much so, in fact, that to call Obama a “Muslim” is considered a smear by his campaign. There is still inequality and injustice; there is still poverty, hunger, and homelessness, in the richest country in the world.

Still, as I reflect on this Fourth of July, I must remind myself of what is right about America. I must remind myself how truly blessed I am to be an American. I must remind myself how, truly, there is no other country in the world I would rather call home.

May God continue to bless America for ever and ever and ever. Amen.

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