What defines being American?
An “American” cannot be defined by race. Ethnic and racial minorities will collectively become a majority sometime around 2043.
An “American” is not necessarily an English-speaker; at least 94 different languages are spoken in Texas homes.
An “American” is not necessarily a Christian — the number of atheists and agnostics in the U.S. is growing rapidly, as are non-Christian religions.
Nor can an American be defined by social beliefs. Younger adults disagree with their parents on a wide range of social issues, from same-sex marriage to marijuana.
Americans are divided on abortion, gun control, immigration reform, and a host of other issues.
So what defines an “American”? I believe Thomas Jefferson said it best, then and today:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
An “American” therefore should believe that all are created equal; that all have the right to life, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness; and that government must function by consent of the governed. While these beliefs are no longer unique in our world, they were in 1776.
I think this is more important than EVER in time and society. I am thankful to be American. I wake up everyday in a country that I love and allows me to be free.
On that note -- What are y'all wearing for the Fourth of July? ;)