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Issue No: 1266



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Today I was in a shoe store that sells only shoes, nothing else. A young girl with a tattoo and green hair walked over to me and asked, “What brings you in today?

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We especially missed America on the 4th of July, and Thanksgiving Day, and Super Bowl Sunday. Those days were not special in Zambia, Africa, where my family lived for seven years. We had a house there – a nice one too, and though we called it home, it wasn’t our real home. Our real home was — and always will be — America.

If you’ve traveled far or lived long outside of the U.S.A., you know how sweet it is to return to American soil. When you arrive, you know you’ve arrived, you know you are home. What is it that makes America home?

America is our home because we feel safe here. Home is everyone’s ultimate safe space. When a child is lost, he wants to find home. When a wandering soul is disillusioned by destructive forces (addiction, socialism, deceptions, etc.), that sad soul wants to go home. When a soldier on foreign soil senses danger, he yearns for home.

At home, we lead with love, listen with care, and affirm each other’s worth. We feel safe because when something goes wrong, we seek ways to fix the problem. Since John Hancock affixed his signature to the Declaration of Independence in 1776, it’s been that way in our homeland—America.

America is our home because we feel free here. We have a constitution that protects our freedoms. We can say what we think, worship without fear, hang out with whomever we want, and travel without restriction. We can create our own way of life, protect ourselves from harm, and, if necessary, vote ourselves a new government.

Few societies (nations, tribes, or villages) throughout the history of humanity have experienced the freedom we take for granted. Consider how many people since 1776 have left their houses, huts, or tents to make America their home. Why? They heard Lady Liberty’s call, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Millions came to make America their home.

America is our home because we feel opportunity here. America was created by men who saw equal value in the individual. They believed all men and women should be free to pursue happiness, own property, have a chance to become what God intended them to be. James Truslow Adams, the writer who in 1931 coined the phrase “the American Dream,” defined it this way: life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.

Social mobility and economic growth come only with opportunity empowered by passion. When individuals have no extra wealth (capital), no means to grow intellectually (poor or severely limited education), and no tools with which to work, zeal wanes, and innovation withers. But give an individual an opportunity and the possibility of success, he will take chances, innovate, grow, and often prosper.

This is what makes America home, and America is why everyone who leaves one day wants to come home again. This is why every day I lived in Africa; I made my way to the post office to see if there’s any news from home. This is why, after several years there, we determined, it’s time to go home. And we did. Why? Because here we feel safe, here we feel free, and here we feel opportunity.

©2014 Ronald D. Rosss

To read all of Dr. Ross’ columns visit RonRossToday.com.