Exactly what does it mean to be an "American"?
Ask 100 Americans and you will likely get 150 answers.
Does being American mean the same thing as having a strong sense of nationalism?
What does it take to be an American?
You can be born here or you can take a test and become 'naturalized'.
Is that really all it takes to 'be' an American? To simply hold legal citizen status?
Do you have to 'love it or leave it' to be an American? Must one buy into the indoctrination and rhetoric put forth by the public education system in order to be a 'real' American?
Is being an American an all or none situation?
It's interesting, because there are those who would say it is an all or none situation.
There are many who treat being an American as if it were a cult. You must totally accept the proffered word of the establishment, those who put nationalistic infused words to paper to fire up their followers spirits and keep them on the straight and narrow. Their motive is divine privilege. If not for sticking firm to ideals and concepts held by those who colonized the land so long ago, they would have no nation.
There are others who beleive being an American is akin to being a prisoner or even a victim. That by the very fact of birth in America, one is owed a blood debt by virtue of the crimes and sins of the past, this is especially common if one is born a non-anglo. Their entire movement and cause is rebellion. Being anti- whatever the establishment happens to be at the time.
I think there are others, like myself, who hold true to the better part of humanity. That the best ideas and social advances, can come from humans, regardless of race, nationality, ethnicity or social status.
The basis for the Constitution itself has many sources of inspiration. This group of people beleive that the values and beliefs put forth in the Constitution transcends even the people who wrote it and voted it to be the base document of what the nation as a whole would live by.
The people who put the words to paper and set their names in adopting it as law for everyone were imperfect people and by the very nature of their personal lives, lived in contradiction of the document.
Some of the men who signed that document were at the same time owners of slaves, owners of businesses that treated and paid workers excessively harsh. They were philanderers and womanizers.
Yet, despite those personal failings and shortcomings, the document they set into motion has brought about freedom and opportunity for any person, regardless of who they are or their parentage.
It is a case where the sum is greater than the total of the parts. When we hold the Constitution high as a standard, we are holding the best of ideals and intentions, to be for all people, not just those who fall short of their meanings.
We don't hold as perfect representatives the people who caused it to be, for even they who signed it were inspired by other peoples, in other places to culminate the best values of people from around the world into one document.
I don't idolize George Washington, or Thomas Jefferson or Ben Franklin or the many many others who signed the Constitution into being. I am glad they played their part in making it happen, but it goes no further.
It matters less the messengers and moreso the message itself. They did their job in bringing the message forth and we are better off because of the message.
Even they, the signers, did not give total credit to mankind for the message being brought into light. They cite Gods will and intent. They say it was divine and inspired from beyond themselves and were compelled to making it happen as much as choosing and acting to bring it about.
When mankind thinks and works beyond themselves, to seek what is best for everyone and not just a few, The ideas have surpassed the people who act to make them come through. Whether the ideas themselves came from a divine creator or simply the good hearts and will o the people, they achieve the same result. A better life for everyone.