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Two truths on our nation’s birthday

By Josh Beavers

The United States of  America is nearly 250 years old. Happy Birthday! Now let’s just call it how it is. No Fox News fireworks and fake rah-rah and no MSNBC “the sky is falling shtick.”

Truth is, we’ve stumbled along the way at some points. We’ve bickered and argued and generally not been excellent to each other despite the call to do so by Bill and his friend Ted. 

Some are unhappy with the red, white and blue and the ire isn’t exclusive to those outside our borders. Inside these states, I don’t say United because there’s not much unity in the Western world of social media and demagoguery and fear and hate mongering, there’s a divide that appears to have no hope of ever seeing bridges cross its well-defended edges. 

There’s continued talk of two nations and woeful laments on either side of that Grand Canyon sized expanse between Red and Blue, R’s and D’s, conservatives and progressives (I don’t use the term liberal because it’s been appropriated as a derisive and pejorative exclamation by politicians who revel in scaring people more than any Hollywood monster ever could; chances are if you call yourself a conservative, you’d have been considered a radical liberal just 20 or so years ago, but that’s another story).

Simply put – a lot of people just ain’t happy and they most definitely want to tell you about it. 

And that’s ok, that’s the whole point of this place. It’s our first amendment after all. And I’m not saying which side is right and which is wrong because it’s not as black and white as all that despite what the politicians and bumper sticker and keyboard crowd will tell you. There’s a lot of gray in there. That’s usually the case.  Gray areas. A little bit of truth here and there and little bit of lies and misinformation and misunderstanding everywhere else. But not always because no matter where you fall on the political spectrum nor what race, sex, or gender you claim, no matter what god you pray to, there are two irrefutable truths when it comes to this nation. 

The first irrefutable truth is that the American Dream is an enduring ideal that has captivated individuals across generations. It embodies the belief in boundless opportunities and the pursuit of happiness. It signifies the freedom to dream, aspire, and forge one’s own path, irrespective of background or circumstances.

While dreams of prosperity, freedom, and happiness have permeated various cultures and civilizations, the American Dream stands apart in its remarkable fusion of opportunity, individualism, and social mobility.

Unlike many historical notions of destiny or predetermined social hierarchies, the American Dream is rooted in the belief that individuals possess the agency to shape their own destinies. It rejects the notion that one’s fate is irrevocably tied to the circumstances of birth, offering instead a vision of meritocracy and the promise that hard work and determination can propel individuals beyond their starting point.

Moreover, the American Dream’s emphasis on inclusivity sets it apart from other historical narratives. While it has faced challenges and struggles in the pursuit of equality, the dream has consistently sought to transcend divisions of race, religion, and social class, inviting all who seek its promises to partake in its pursuit. This inclusive character has contributed to the melting pot nature of American society, enriching it with diverse perspectives, talents, and contributions. 

We move forward. We always move forward. Even when there are a few steps back, we always move forward in time. America belongs to all of us. 

The American Dream’s enduring appeal lies not only in its lofty aspirations but also in its resilience throughout history. It has weathered periods of economic upheaval, social strife, and ideological shifts, adapting and evolving to address the shifting needs and aspirations of each generation. It is a living ideal that continues to inspire individuals from all walks of life, both within the United States and beyond its borders.

From all corners of the world, people still come en masse to America to make a better life. 

The second irrefutable truth is that despite claims to the contrary, the American Dream remains alive. It’s not a promise of success. You may fail a thousand times. You may never accomplish what you seek. The difference is you have the chance to keep trying. 

The American Dream will only keep on living, though, if we all keep it alive. 

Never stop fighting. Never stop letting your voice be heard. Never stop fighting for your First Amendment. It’s the most important one after all. Shout, cry, fight and never give up. The American Dream is not for the weak of will. It’s a clarion call to take action. There’s no king keeping you down. There’s no system of feudalism ruled by a monarch’s undisputed decree. 

Langston Hughes wrote “America was never America to me.”

“ O, yes,

I say it plain,

America never was America to me,

And yet I swear this oath—

America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,

The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,

We, the people, must redeem

The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.

The mountains and the endless plain—

All, all the stretch of these great green states—

And make America again!”

So once again, the Dream that is America will only keep on living if we all keep it alive. That means fighting and not going gently into the night. 

Never stop fighting because America is worth it. The promise of America is worth it. 

You are worth it. 

(Josh Beavers is an award winning writer and author. He has earned more than 40 individual writing awards and is syndicated in 12 North Louisiana news journals. The Louisiana Press Association has recognized him five times for excellence in opinion writing, and he has earned numerous Best Investigative Reporting Awards and Freedom of Information Awards for exposure of governmental corruption in Webster Parish.)