Berry: What makes America great?Written by Thomas Berry | | email@example.com
Although it’s rather old news, President Obama’s April 13 speech on the federal deficit still provides a wealth of insight into the man and his philosophy. Such an insight emerged when he said of Medicare, Social Security, unemployment insurance and Medicaid, “America would not be a great country without those commitments.”
In other words: President Obama is saying that America is not great because of the Declaration of Independence, which states in unprecedented clarity and wisdom the nature and foundation of human rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. She is not great because her founders expelled tyranny from her shores at enormous personal cost. Neither is she great because of the Constitution, which codifies both individual liberty and a carefully limited and balanced system of government while being designed to be amended.
Nor do the sacrifices America has made for the freedom of others make her great, to judge by President Obama’s words. America was not great when 364,511 of her men died to end slavery, or when she stood alone with Britain and the remnants of her empire against the rising tide of Naziism, Fascism and Japanese imperialism at the cost of 405,399 more American lives. She was not great when she took the lead in rebuilding war-shattered Western Europe, nor when 36,574 Americans died halting Communist China’s invasion of South Korea.
Obama’s America was not great when the railroads and early highways were built, nor when she successfully constructed the Panama Canal after French efforts failed. She was not great when Americans discovered electricity and the polio vaccine, invented the airplane and the light bulb, perfected the automobile and modern mass production, cultivated deserts, harnessed rivers and the atom, and built the dominant economy of the twentieth century.
Nearly two centuries of voluntarily philanthropy by such titans as Carnegie and Rockefeller, or those Americans who followed in their ponderous footsteps, do not make Obama’s America great. Neither do such massive humanitarian efforts as the Berlin Airlift.
To take the President at his word, the stuff of American greatness is found only in the seizure and redistribution of wealth through means that are rife with waste and corruption and that are administered by endless ranks of overpaid bureaucrats. Obama’s America is great only when taxation is perverted into “giving,” as if taxes were voluntary, and care for the needy is institutionalized under the crushing burden of government control and inefficiency. Apparently, we’re expected to think that America was not a great nation until the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.
The President is also implying that greatness can be legislated into being. Here too, he errs. Greatness cannot be created through passage of laws; rather, the true greatness that so characterizes the American spirit exists only where the people voluntarily obey the higher, unwritten laws of charity, duty and honor. It comes about not by compelling aid to those in adversity by force of written law, but rather when the people choose, often despite their own adversity, to comply with the natural, moral law which forms the bedrock upon which our Republic was founded. But since this President is evidently persuaded of his own greatness, despite his rapidly expanding record of profound incompetence, it is not surprising that the understanding of true greatness, be it personal or national, escapes him.