The classic American road trip is a great experience for a lot of good reasons. More than the core of great novels and movies, it’s usually a journey of inner discovering and bonding and so much else all at once. At the core, however, is one undeniable lesson – this is a truly vast and amazing nation.
The best measure of how stuck in a rut this nation have become is how much that obvious fact has been forgotten. I promise you that the United States is bigger than you or I can ever possibly imagine. But to listen to today’s media or politics of any kind you’d swear that this nation is weak, fragile, and small.
We need a road trip. Short of that, let’s take one in our minds.
Closing down our borders may seem like a good idea in the panic of the moment, but everything about it goes against the history of this nation. It’s easy enough to say we are a nation of immigrants and invoke the Statue of Liberty as the icon of this simple and obvious fact, but history is far more uneven than that. The US is something like a big fraternity in that every group has to go through a hazing ritual before it finally makes it.
Through it all, it’s always been the most ambitious people of any nation who crossed the oceans or deserts to be here. Their guiding vision has always been one of a bigger America than most of us who were born here have, a place where there is always more room or damnitall we’ll make it. The greatest gift each generation of immigrants from new nations we’ve never heard of before brings is to remind us how big America really is after all.
It may seem reasonable to stop people from coming just because they are from a certain nation which appears different. For example, what would we lose by not allowing Syrians to come here? There are two ways to answer this, the first and most obvious is the selfish way. While there haven’t been too many Americans of Syrian ancestry, one of them was Steve Jobs. Many more are doctors, engineers, and scientists, too. Our nation has always expanded primarily through the big hearts, strong arms, and incredible dreams of those who renew it constantly.
But there is a better answer which takes some explaining. Many Americans feel that our ties with the world have changed us, that the world has forced its way into not just our space but our definition of who we are as a people. They look around at changes taking place and assume that someone from the outside must be responsible – Americans wouldn’t do this to each other, would they?
So the answer must be a smaller America, an America with walls and restrictions and rules.
Yet it should be obvious that foreigners have not taken our jobs – that robots have. The world hasn’t remade us, we remade the world. The best and brightest with great ambition no longer have to cross the ocean to be among us – they can stay home and make their own nations great again.
The true size of America is shown in how the Dollar rules a world that largely speaks English and occasionally eats underneath golden arches at MacDonald’s. The world didn’t change us, we changed the world.
Yet we did change in ways that almost no one likes. We became wealthier in the process, absorbing cheap plastic goods and even amazing TVs at unbelievably low prices. Rather than revel in our greatness we crawled up into a ball and became more and more entitled with each generation. We lost our faith in our ability to understand and actually solve our own problems – indeed, to do any kind of heavy lifting, either actual or intellectual.
We can’t think that the rest of the world hasn’t noticed. As our morals sold out so did our entire culture, to the point where many around the world feel obliged to push back and keep the poison of entitlement and moral corruption out of their lives. They are willing to kill to stop the very same things that so many of us hate, except as outsiders they have a clearer vision of what it is.
America has become very small. We made it so because our vision of it has diminished.
So why should we open up our nation to those who just want to kill us? Such a thought can only come from a vision of America which has shriveled up into a ball, cowering under the thin blanket of entitlement. The problem with closing ourselves off is that we close off our own ability to refresh and to imagine, our ability to lead and be strong.
There cannot be a place for fear to rule the Home of the Brave, yet that is what has happened today.
How can we refresh our nation and realize just how big we really are? A great road trip would be a good start. Anything to get us off our buts and out to see just how big this nation is. It’s not just that it would do us all good, it would do the whole world a lot of good. Get out, get out of our rut, and start realizing that America really is incredibly big – not just in size but in spirit.