The America I love!
Enough already with these religious tests, bigotry, and downright rudeness. This is not the America I love and serve.
The United States is not a Muslim nation or a Christian nation. America is a nation welcoming of all faiths and no faith; a nation of immigrants, a country that values and celebrates diversity, a land of opportunities where true merit, hard work, and compassion towards your neighbors is rewarded. A nation where we are ALL truly equal under the law, and we don't create laws to benefit or favor any one religion.
Just like we don't (or shouldn't) exclude women because the founding fathers were all men, we don't discriminate or denigrate someone because s/he doesn't espouse a certain view or follow a certain faith.
Yes, some of the founding fathers were christian, some were even agnostics, a few downright atheists. And, like I wrote in Michigan Tech's student newspaper 20 years ago, “it is quite apparent that the framers of the Constitution (and those who amended it) incorporated many beliefs and systems that make this country truly pluralistic. John Locke, who arguably of all modern philosophers carried the most weight among the framers said that, “the magistrate had no authority to rule over souls; religion must depend on inward conviction, not on external compulsion; and, that the rights of conscience in matters of personal religious faith must be treated with respect.””
The framers worked diligently to create a constitution (our founding legal document and supreme law of the land) devoid of any religious text. Let's work to preserve and protect that beautiful ideal. And, let's work to preserve the most ethnically, religiously, and culturally diverse nation on Earth.
True freedom means freedom to pursue any religion or none at all, and to espouse views, even distasteful ones, without fear of persecution by the State or by a majority. And, true freedom means keeping religion out of politics and the State out of religion (please enquire with the 'citizens' of any religiously-driven countries, if you doubt this).
And any system where one view (or the majority) overshadows the rest is imperialism or, worse, fascism.
So, practice your religion privately – it is your (and my) right; and, repeat after me: the United States is built on the concept of true liberty, free speech, a non-faith-based democracy, and the rule of law.
And, no, I will not "go home" or mindlessly "assimilate" whatever that means. What I will do is stay true to the ideals that brought us ALL to these shores -- whether escaping religious or political persecution at any time in the last few hundred years or 200+ years ago on slave ships or 20 years ago as part of the technology boom or ninety years ago under selective immigration rules or 120 years ago because of a potato blight or yesterday because of a job opportunity. The ideals of liberty, fairness, and equal justice bind us together and make us Americans and not the color of our skin or allegiance to a monarch or participation in a particular religious sect.
Plus, I am home already. Mine's in Virginia; where's yours?
I do, however, promise to love you (yes, even you, haters) and make you understand that everyone (brown, white, poor, straight, black, yellow, buddhist, tanned, atheist, pale, hirsute, conservative, agnostic, red, feminist, rich, muslim, gay, blue, hindu, transgender, bald, christian, confused, colored, jew, orange, sikh, liberal, lesbian, ...) is here in these United States to make a better life for themselves and their families. Yes, even those who came over illegally (a vexing problem, I agree; but one that requires discourse and decisive, compassionate action, not walls and shaming).
Let us do everything we can to ensure that we setup institutions, minimal laws, and sensible processes to give everyone a chance at making a better life for themselves.
Let us not just spend mindlessly on defense and pork, but come together and invest in education, health care, science and technology, elder care, skills training, upgrading our civic infrastructure, sustainable energy and innovation, smart weapons, caring for our veterans and first responders, protecting and preserving our precious natural resources and borders, and sheltering the homeless - all true hall marks of a great nation and a caring people.
Let us be mindful that we have been given a unique, pluralistic legacy that we must protect and sustain. Let us celebrate our diversity, since cultural democracy strengthens and enriches political democracy.
And, finally, for those of us fortunate enough to have plenty - let us feed the hungry, let us create businesses that provide wholesome jobs to the eager, let us serve with dignity to protect our nation, let us volunteer our time to assist the needy or care for the sick, let us speak compassionately to those who incite hate, and, above all, let us remain calm.
This nation, now more than ever, needs calm, mature, and rational thinkers, who can guide us successfully into the next great American century, while encouraging the experiences and perspectives of diverse racial, ethnic, cultural, and linguistic groups.
Let us stand together and be a true beacon of liberty to ourselves and to the rest of the world - a compassionate, strong, dignified, welcoming America that leads the world (not by hate, negativity, or bigotry), but by its positive talk, self-belief, innovation, and love.