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A declaration of nationalism

September 30th, 2010

No matter where you turn, one thing is very evident: American Nationalism is as bold as it has ever been. Freedom of speech and expression are pushing the outer boundaries of the First Amendment.

The Constitution has become the Bible of our union. However, at the same time, this brazen display of “patriotism” has weakened the very indivisible nation for which it stands.

Echoes of “United We Stand” reverberate from coast to coast; perhaps this is true. If so, then I am inclined to wonder, “Who is the ‘we’ that stand so united?” I think it’s about time we reevaluate how we define nationalism.

On the surface, it is a very simple concept – nationalism is pride in one’s country. God Bless America; what’s not to be proud of? It’s true, our country’s history is far from perfect; but overall, our strength has been found overwhelmingly in unity.

Unfortunately, this sentiment seems to be fading. The irony is that this is happening because of people’s attempts to restore a fabled homogeny to a melting pot of diversity. What makes America the best country in the world is our fairy-tale ability to live side-by-side in peace despite ethnic, religious, political or personal differences.

Naturally, I believe that freedom of speech and expression are the bricks upon which America was built. The chance to have a voice and let it be heard is an object of envy to the rest of the world. It is our duty, as torch-bearers for this unabridged freedom of expression, to use it wisely. What good is freedom if it strips people of their beliefs? And similarly, what good are beliefs if they strip people of their freedom? This is the double-edged sword that threatens America.

In our 234-year history, hundreds of thousands of young men and women have valiantly defended our liberties at home and across the oceans. Many of these brave people have lost their lives. If we truly support our troops, then we must support what they stand for as well: the sustenance of the American Dream – a vision of opportunity in a world of closed doors.

At John Carroll University, we boast that we are men and women for others. Our commitment to service is proof. But I put forth one more challenge: be the person that opens these doors for others as well.

So let’s return to my previous question: Who are we? The answer seems quite clear – we are Americans, a nation of believers and dreamers who recognize diversity not as an obstacle, but as the keystone of our unity.

We need to look no further than the flag to understand what America stands for – an ever-growing country that started out as 13 loosely confederated colonies and currently reigns as the strongest Union in the world. Ultimately, this is not a country of red, white or blue; it’s a country of red, white and blue.

And that is the nationalism for which we should all strive.