Final thoughts on returning to greatness

For today’s conclusion of readers’ comments as to what will make America great again, we start with an interesting perspective of an Alpena native now living “across the pond” in Great Britain — Matthew Pugh.

Pugh writes “As a father of three young children, I can safely say that what will make America great is hope for the future and respect for others. As I write this, I am living in London, England, which is one of the most diverse places I know. My neighbors and coworkers are Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Jewish, Christian, Agnostic and Atheist. They are men, women, gay, and even transgender. They come from a wide variety of the populated continents around the world, and we all get along and respect each other for the most part.

“When we look to America these recent weeks and watch it struggle with its identity, many of my friends and coworkers are confused. They were always told that America was built on embracing people from diverse locations and backgrounds: rich or poor, religious or not, and regardless of race or ancestry. The inscription on the statue of Liberty reminds us that the U.S.A. was made great by being a global melting pot of ideas under the premise of respect toward anyone and everyone who wanted to put in the hard work to drive the country forward. This election result (and appointment of people like Stephen Bannon) flies in the face of that ideal, and I am struggling to explain it to everyone over here.

“Along with respect, we need to have hope for the future … What is needed is the more people traveling the difficult (and more rewarding) route that supports and embraces everyone in our community no matter who or what they are. I hope that we are able to come together and support diversity and accept others with differing viewpoints and backgrounds. That this is the only way to a future that I want to see and give to my children.”

Judi Stillion blamed social media for some of the problems Pugh addressed. “Social media has opened up our world in so many ways but also closed it down and more importantly isolated us so that we listen and talk only to those with the same perspectives. Windows of thought are narrowing, we need to open them back up with civil, thoughtful discourse, find common ground and work together.”

She also addressed issues of importance to many others as well such as women’s rights, justice for all and a concern for our environment.

The environmental theme was important to Elizabeth Littler. “Especially, I would hope the grandkids would live in a society that values the environment and makes it a part of its decisions. Global warming is a fact, extinction is a fact, loss and fouling the habitat is a fact; these are losses from which there is no recovery.”

She also writes she would like to see “A society that encourages work, self-reliance but also encourages people to strive for good relationships, education and experiences that bring happiness not just financial gain. And, for all our sakes, a society with a sense of humor.”

Kaye Breckenridge worries about not moving backward. “We have made great progress as far as health care for more people, equal rights for gay citizens, and more rights for women. I want black lives to matter as much as white lives. I want us to learn from history and not celebrate the ‘good old days’ when people flew the Confederate flag, kept public facilities separate for blacks and whites, and made the LGBT community live on the fringes. I want science to be taken seriously and as fact and not as a belief. I want us to move to work with other nations on climate change and open our country to people who are being persecuted in their countries. I want the statement on the Statue of Liberty to be once again who we are as a nation.”

Joe Cerone of Rogers City believes the theme to take from the election is that less is best.

“I doubt if many would disagree with your list of attributes that “make America great.” The real question is how do we get there? In that regard, I think many Americans believe the first step is scaling back the scope and influence of government — at all levels. I truly think that is what so many voters said in the most recent election. People are afraid that their economic security is in jeopardy and they understand that as the government continues to expand its reach, that concern is exacerbated. How can we expect to see businesses grow and provide employment when they are faced with layer upon layer of bureaucratic obstacles and restrictive regulations? How can we expect to see investment money become available when the National Debt is more than $60,000 for each man, woman and child in the country?

“Across the nation, people voted for candidates and political parties that advocated smaller, more efficient and less intrusive government. It remains to be seen when or if those kinds of changes occur, but certainly, the message to “stop the growth” of government should have been heard loud and clear.”

Leslie Kirchoff and Janice Boboltz suggested that compassion is a key ingredient to making America great again.

“We are all created in the image of our Divine Creator with differences of gender, race, sexual orientation, and talents. These differences make us unique and should be honored and respected.  Therefore, lifting up the other and helping them in whatever way necessary to improve their life circumstances is the responsibility of each of us.

“Hopefully, we have learned from the mistakes of the past and are ready to move forward. We are all in this together.  Let the conversation begin.”

Carl Kelly believes we need to address the morality of the county.

“I believe moral decline is the largest single factor in the deterioration of our country.” He then points to pornography, profanity, abortion, LGBTQ issues, the erosion of marriage principles, the deterioration of the family, the blurring of gender lines, drug abuse and the welfare system as all contributing factors to this loss of a moral compass in the country.

“We have been drawn into the corruption of our culture,” he said.

Finally, Sue Maxwell looked to Robert Kennedy “I see a world that never was and ask why not?” as inspiration to bring this discussion to a close.

She writes “I want to see America, not as it was, but as it could be.

“Where we descendents of immigrants welcome other immigrants and give them

the opportunity to grow and contribute and melt into our pot while maintaining

their heritage.

“Where every child is educated and encouraged and allowed to develop fully.

“Where free health care is available to all, as it is in other industrialized nations.

“Where a higher education is available to anyone willing to work for it and does

not result in monumental indebtedness.

“Where all people share in paying the costs of government with fair, progressive

income tax rates.

“Where all babies are wanted babies and choice is available to women.

Where government assistance is provided to those who are handicapped, ill

or  unable to provide for themselves.

“Where good jobs are created in new industries working to find ways to keep

our air and water pure and stop global warming.

“Where people are free to love who they will and marry those they love.”

What will make America great again? As we saw from our readers it isn’t one main item, but rather a combination of many. It isn’t one philosophy, but rather hundreds. There was one common theme that did emerge from all your writings however, and it is this: We need to get back to respecting ourselves and others, to treat others with civility and restore manners and common sense into our lives.

Thanks for this great experiment. I hope readers have enjoyed it as much as I have.

Bill Speer can be reached via email at bspeer@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 354-3111 ext. 331. Follow Bill on Twitter @billspeer13. Read his blog, More BS (Bill Speer) at www.thealpenanews.com.