I love being an American. But that wasn’t always the case. There was a huge chunk of my life when I just hated and I do mean hated this country. Shortly after receiving my B.A. in Political Science and History, I fell into the abyss of constantly asking myself “What’s wrong with this nation?” I had gone to Washington D.C. with a great curiosity about the inner working of our government. Influenced by Maxine Water’s voice against apartheid, I believed I could change the world. What my twenty-something self experienced was a whole lot less than a changing world, and my brief encounters with political greats (who shall remain nameless) just sped my journey to the state of disenchantment I mentioned earlier.
Twenty years later our country has changed tremendously while I stood idly on the side lines. I can only say that I did vote during that time, but I did not give my energy and gifts towards making this nation a more perfect union. At least consciously, that is. I have also aged and gained a minuscule amount of wisdom, of which I will attempt to share.
What is it you see for our nation? What do you believe we need in order to make this nation more perfect? Pick an issue, any issue—health insurance reform, education reform, environmental conservation, poverty, nuclear proliferation. Which of these issues wrings your heart? Take a moment a just breathe into what national or world issue is calling you out from among them.
When I was twenty-something, I believed I was powerless to create change. After getting a tiny taste of what happens in Washington, I was intimidated and hopeless. I banished myself to decades of complaining about why America is so bad and how I don’t expect things to ever get better. There is never a shortage of participants in this choir. They all sing the same song in unison and without harmony.
If we are to envision a more perfect union, we must envision ourselves building a more perfect union. Our involvement can be as varied as we desire. It can be local, serving our own homes, blocks, schools and communities. We can begin creating a more perfect union by growing a garden in our yards. The energy that will be saved from one person making less frequent trips to the local market would astound you. In truth, a more perfect union begins with you. It can seem like something that feels unachievable, like alleviating the injustices occurring across our nation and the planet. But we can don’t have to solve every problem on a grand scale, and we can leave some issues to the elected officials or the freedom fighters.
A more perfect union begins with you, because you are where our union begins. This nation is made up of people just like you. People who emigrated here or are the offspring of immigrants. They came here seeking a better life for themselves and their children. There are those who came willingly and those who came in chains. But it is their efforts to live on-purpose lives that inspire us today. They held the vision we are currently living. They acted on their vision by creating businesses, communities, and industries we thrive in today. We reside in their more perfect union.
What do you envision for this nation? What are you building that will carry us into an even more perfect union. It has been said that a person without a vision will surely perish.
I can finally say I love being an American. I am taking action toward a more perfect union in the way that speaks to my heart. I see in my heart a nation that works for and embraces all people. And each day I do one thing toward that vision that begins with being a more perfect citizen. You too can live the vision you hold for this nation by perfecting ‘you’ in union.