The American Spirit
Audrey Kamena | JULY 4, 2020
It is both simple and impossible to picture America. Immediately, images of stars and stripes are conjured up, of the red-white-and-blue, of the physical shape and features of the
country. But America is more than its geography or symbols. America is more than a country. To be an American isn't a certificate or a language or a look. To be American is away of life.
To find what it means to be an American, let's look at one of the most American institutions still in establishment: the Boy Scouts, now known as Scouts BSA since admitting girls into the program. One of the foundational principles of Scouting is community service. Scouts demonstrate commitment to their nation from helping their neighbors to the famously challenging Eagle Project, the final step in scouting that requires a lengthy project meant to have long-term benefits for a community (BSA). Giving back to the community through food drives and clean-ups is one of the fundamental qualities of a scout and an American. Volunteering our time, energy, and money to the communities that give to us is the hallmark of a good citizen. To be American is to be ensured inalienable rights and a beautiful country, and it is our duty to ensure that those benefits are guaranteed for our progeny.
However, community service is nothing if there is no community to serve. What defines America at its core is its democracy. Though one of the youngest countries, it has quickly risen to be one of the most successful in history. This meteoric success can be attributed to that democracy which enables our people to be represented. Such representation is not guaranteed, and it is the greatest duty of an American to take part in voting and elections. This means turning up to the polls, but the true work begins long before November. In an age of misinformation, it's our job to sift through the infinite amount of news coming our way and find the truth. It's Also our duty to accept viewpoints not the same as our own, for it is only through compromise that any proper solutions may flourish. It was only through compromise that both our esteemed Constitution and the Bill of Rights Came to fruition. And it is only through compromise that our
country will continue to provide both rights and protection for our people.
Though we must acknowledge and accept our differences, so too must we revel in our likeness. In the preamble to theConstitution, it is stated that one purpose of the document is “in order to achieve a more perfect Union” (National Archives). As the media and a deep-rooted passion for always being correct have pushed us farther apart, we must realize that it is more important to be able to listen than to talk. The partisanship that divides us is far from what the Founding Fathers envisioned (Pruitt). In fact, many of the first Americans were adamantly opposed to political parties, as Georgian England had been torn apart by fighting factions. We see a similar issue in modern America: politicians ripping into one another on national television, news articles heavily slanted towards one side, and even slander on social media. As Americans, it is our duty to see to it that we take pride in what we share, from our undying ambition to the love for our admittedly flawed country.
At times, it may seem that being an American is more work than it's worth. However, we must keep in mind the fruits of our labor: our freedoms, our rights, and our privileges that make our way of life the best one of all.