What It Means for America to Be Great
One thing I ardently desire is that America continue to be great. This natural and wholesome sentiment is born of a patriotism of which I am not ashamed. I am proud to be an American and so I desire the best for my country.
Contrary to the prevailing conventional wisdom, I do not believe America has lost its greatness. However, like everyone, I realize that this greatness is seriously threatened by the course we have set for ourselves. Its survival hinges on the decisions that we will now make.
The key question before us is determining what we mean by greatness. There are those who associate greatness with bigness, power, or quantity. Thus, America is great because of her vast size, massive economic production or unmatched military might. These can truly be characteristics of great nations but they are not what make a nation great.
There are others who believe the foundation of our greatness is based on the many opportunities to enjoy life in America. They point to our American way of life in which people are encouraged to enjoy life to its fullest. Still others interpret greatness as the freedom to do whatever one pleases. All these goals often reflect legitimate self-interest, but do not necessarily confer greatness upon a nation.
If our greatness is measured by money, pleasure or self-aggrandizement, then our striving for greatness, no matter how vigorous, will inevitably fall short. For the greatness of nations is not found in things, quantities, or delights, but in the character of its people.
Indeed, true greatness -- that which endures the test of time -- is born of a willingness to go beyond the common and ordinary. It calls us to excel, to take heroic action and to serve causes that take us beyond ourselves. It asks us to resist the temptation to sink into soft mediocrity.
America is great because there have always been, and still are, those who are willing to take up the challenges of going beyond the easy and comfortable. As long as such Americans may be found at all levels in society, we will continue to be great.
And so I believe America is great because there still exists dedicated fathers and loving mothers who sacrifice together to give their children strong character and instill in them the difference between right and wrong.
That quintessentially American can-do attitude still exists, propelling society to strive toward excellence. Scratch the surface of the towns and cities across our nation, and one will find those Americans who overcome obstacles, take risks, and set our standards high.
America will be great as long as there are those generous self-sacrificing American who step up to the plate, assume responsibility and become leaders in their communities, businesses, and institutions.
As long as honor holds a place in our hearts, we will produce heroes with the courage to fight for what we know to be true and right. We will even have those who will make the sublime sacrifice of offering their lives for their country.
America will be great as long as we strive to be truly good. True goodness means placing God in the center of society, holding to His commandments as the rule of life and defending this higher law in the public square. We can be great -- and expect God’s blessing -- only if we remain faithful to a God that is almighty and great.
Such Americans are what makes the nation great. For them words like courage, honor, justice, and duty still resonate in their hearts. They still hold dear their ties to God and His law. They grieve over the course the nation has taken.
However, the number of these Americans is fast dwindling as everything is being swept away by the frenetic intemperance of a society that thrives on instant gratification and spectacle. They are replaced by gaggles of shallow people, devoid of honor and character, who seek only to turn life into a huge carnival of fun and delights.
In these perilous times, many caricatures of greatness appear. The rule of honor is usurped by the rule of money. Greatness comes to signify vulgar displays of wealth, pleasure and power. A “great” person is one who does whatever it takes to keep the grand party going. Tragically, it can even mean severing our link with God when it obstructs the easy pursuit of whatever.
I ardently yearn for America to be great, but if that greatness be not true, and comes at the price of virtue, duty and honor, I prefer that we as a people say “no.” And if our “no’ brings upon us the fury of those who promise the false greatness of the world, then so be it. For in that act of collectively saying “no,” America will have achieved a true greatness.
The questions that need to be addressed today are not those of taxes, jobs, economy or benefits. Although they are all important issues, they can more easily be resolved when sanity returns to the nation. We now enter a critical time when we must choose the path of true greatness over false, honor over money, God over the world. If we ardently desire a return to order, then we must be convinced that America can only be great if she is good and Godly. What will decide America’s future will be what has always decide her future -- the character of her people.
John Horvat II is a scholar, researcher, educator, international speaker, and author of the book Return to Order, as well as the author of hundreds of published articles. He lives in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania where he is the vice president of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property.