How To Be An American…

ImmigrantsHow to be an American

Much has been written, mostly in anger, about some people doing something or believing something and that action makes them “not American”. “If you don’t do thus and so, you are not a real American”.
Which leads to the question that needs to be asked; How do you become an American?
You could be born here because that automatically makes you a citizen and many people from foreign lands take advantage of that to be in the United States to have babies. If their children are citizens, they reason, no one would make me leave without my child.
Some people become citizens by going through the process established to become “Naturalized” as a citizen. The process is somewhat long and is more intense than many native born Americans could stand. But these things really miss the point of becoming American.
Americans stand for something, they work hard, they play harder, they do impossible things to further their children’s lives, they look around and see what is needed in their towns and they deliver. They worship, they create, they fight, they bicker and they sometimes kill each other over the stupidest things. Americans are brilliant, ignorant, wise, mean, happy, angry, accomplished, petty, generous, tolerant and bigoted all at the same time. So why does the world want to get here and be American?
America is a giant “What If”. What if I could be free to work at something and make money?
What if my children could learn to read?
What if I could have my own business? What if I could help people who are sick? What if I could become something that I can’t even dream of? What if America would let me own a home?
Over the years the idea of America has changed somewhat but the basics are still there. Freedom, opportunity, tolerance and resources have drawn the best and the brightest from around the world. With all its troubles and warts, with all the intolerance and hate, in spite of narrow agendas we are all Americans.
So how do you become an American exactly?
In the ideal, we are part of something that cannot be concocted; it just morphs into this strange creature known as an American. Because to be an American you have to be German, and Japanese, and Lakota, and Irish and Egyptian, and Jewish, and Coptic, and Christian, and left handed, and black, and Mexican, and English, and Korean, and Druid, and patriotic, and easy going, and Chinese, and Italian, and Brazilian, and Welsh, and Objiaway, and Mohawk, and French, and Liberian, and Muslim, and brown eyed, and Buddhist, and tall, and Asian, and female, and driven, and outrageous, and thoughtful, and Afrikaans, and Seminole, and lazy, and inventive, and self sacrificing, and greedy, and Russian, and Hindu, and Cree, and Costa Rican, and hard as nails, and determined, and persistent, and forgiving, and filled with hate, and open minded, and respectful, and pushy, and Canadian, and Portuguese, and Samoan, and Apache and Flat Head, and Ukrainian, and skillful, and precision oriented, and crafts man like, and Turkish, and Greek, and Ugandan, and Somalian, and Polish, and an artist, and a musician, and a bricklayer, and a cook, and a florist, and gay, and Holy, and a teacher and student. We have taken all of the best of these things, and countless others, and molded the parts into something called an American. So many parts comprise Americans that it is impossible to remove one and not affect the whole. We are a big, mal adjusted family who bickers and fights with each other, but in the end Americans are Americans and they come to the aid of the family when threatened. War is a lost cause for those who try to fight America. Because we are composed of all of the parts of the peoples of the world we know in advance how you are going to react and how to overcome you. Because we are you, but better. Because we have the best of your culture fused into our culture. A culture that lets Mexican Americans eat Spaghetti for dinner and lets English Protestants eat Schwarma for lunch. We are rich and broke, but we are never poor. Even in the darkest days of the recession Detroiters, who are among the hardest hit, met and surpassed the annual United Way goal. Churches, mosques and temples feed people every day.
The American family takes care of the American family.
Grumbling about it, but that is what makes us Americans.

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