America has recently opened its doors to large groups of people from countries around the globe, but especially from war-torn and ravaged lands. Welcome, I am glad you are here! The Mayor of London recently came to America and derided, denigrated, and demeaned America for asking immigrants to assimilate. Yes, America will ask you to assimilate; yes, this request includes those legal and illegal immigrants and refugees; yes, assimilation is hard but worth it.
Assimilation is simply taking the best of your native culture, ideals, values, and beliefs, and adding them to the best America has to offer. America is not a perfect country; we are asking for your help to improve our country by adding the best of your experiences to our best experiences and build America into a greater nation with greater opportunities for freedom. Why does America ask you to assimilate, even though it is hard; the answer lies in the principles of unity, responsibility, and achieving the “American Dream.”
What is the “American Dream?” Simply put, the “American Dream” is to realize freedom, all the benefits of freedom, shouldering all the responsibilities of freedom, and achieving these freedoms through work, education, and self-discovery. A lesson many Americans need to be reminded of is that the “American Dream” has nothing to do with acquiring stuff. The “American Dream” has nothing to do with spending money, although great freedoms are found in earning money and spending that money according to our own desires. The “American Dream” has nothing to do with purchasing a home, even though owning property is a cherished freedom. The “American Dream” is realizing freedom in all its glory and all of its reality.
The “American Dream” means failure, struggle, hard work, loss, gain, understanding value, and so much more. The “American Dream” has tragedy and heartache, misery, and the ultimate joy of achievement. Some of the hardest struggles in understanding the “American Dream” are found in sending loved ones marching to war and not seeing those same loved ones marching back home. The “American Dream” is to understand and embrace freedom, to see the best and worst of humanity and realize that freedom is still the best form of government available, notwithstanding all the imperfections. The “American Dream” means unifying around a single standard.
What is the single standard to rally around? That single standard is the US Constitution and the American Flag. Does rallying around this standard mean suddenly easy street, riches, and smooth sailing; absolutely not! Rallying around this standard simply means unifying, dropping the labels, the hyphenations, the separations, and realizing that together we are better than we are separate. Again, the “American Dream” is all about understanding freedom in all its glory, majesty, and terribleness.
The principles of unity are many, but also very few. Unity is all about choice, choice is all about freedom, and freedom is all about shouldering the consequences of making choices to either become more unified or less unified. Simple and complex, easy and difficult, unity is not a paradox; unity is a learned principle. Consider the young child. Being a child is hard, learning the language, culture, basic standards of education, and growing. The same is true for immigrants. Many come here and are overwhelmed. Like children, simply asking for help becomes a great challenge, and many times that challenge is because immigrants do not realize that help is available and simply requires asking. Hence, the responsibility is on you, not everyone else; this means the consequences for asking or not asking are also on you; this is freedom.
The principles of unity are found in a common language. America is the only country on earth where you can keep your language, and the national language, American English, can be a second or non-primary language. Yet, the choice to learn American English has consequences, and those consequences come with a cost. Learning American English is hard, requires work, and many times will not make sense until time and experience are added to learning. Not learning American English is harder, restricts freedoms and the ability to enjoy all America has to offer, and forces you to forever remain outside America’s embrace.
The principles of unity include understanding, learning, and choosing to plot your own path. No one is going to run your life for you. Choosing to run your own life requires learning, understanding value, and shouldering the consequences of choices for good or ill. In America, you can choose to be homeless, and this is perfectly acceptable. You can choose to chase money; acquiring great riches is possible and completely acceptable in America. Acquire those funds legally and America rewards greatly. Acquire those funds illegally, and eventually, American justice will prevail, and those funds will be lost in a very public trial. Again, we see unity combined with choices leading to coming together under the same standard and enjoying positive consequences or refusing to come together under the standard and enjoying negative consequences.
The principles of responsibility go hand in hand with the principles of unity. In fact, many of the principles of unity overlap with the principles of responsibility. For example, failure to rally under the standard of the US Constitution by breaking a law will reveal how quickly the consequence leads to being forced to shoulder the responsibility of failing to unify and how it affects you personally with the full weight and scorn of the American people. Do illegal actions sometimes not get caught and punished; yes, but eventually society will know and act scornfully. Justice gets served in myriad different ways.
Consider dishonest politicians. Sometimes, dishonest politicians are not apprehended and exposed to the harsh reality of the American justice system, but they lose the respect of voters, lose their title, and remain outcasts and pariahs in American society through the media retelling their stories, through a loss of income, and through American society continually chastising them for their misdeeds. American society can be very harsh for those choosing to not assimilate because the refusal to assimilate means a refusal to unify under a single standard, which requires everyone to do their part to make America better.
Making America better is not a job that can be shirked, forgotten, ignored, or refused. America is all about working together. Work requires sacrifice, learning, and properly using freedoms to achieve more freedoms. Working together requires a common language; the common language signifies a common bond amongst those striving to achieve freedoms as a symbol of desiring more freedoms. Please, take the best you have, add it to the best America offers, and assimilate into America. Unify with us in a beautiful patchwork quilt of diversity and togetherness.
Diversity should never be sacrificed for unity, and unity must never be sacrificed for diversity and individuality. It takes both diversity and unity to make America. It requires sacrifice and responsibility to make America. It requires a willing mind and open heart to achieve freedom and to understand more freedom is possible with assimilation than without assimilation. The choice is yours; the consequences are yours; choose carefully.
© 2016 M. Dave Salisbury
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