Nostalgia is a tricky thing. You have to be careful with it. It’s easy to look back at your youth and remember the good times. It’s comforting.
But when you remove the warm, fuzzy filter of it, you also remember that there were good times mixed with bad.
I’ve found myself on this blog remembering the American melting pot from School House Rock. That’s an American value I still stand behind. But, when I revisit that time in my life, without the nostalgic blinders, I remember being threatened by a couple of old schoolmates for sharing a soft drink with an African American classmate. I didn’t notice it so much then, but now I know women were making pennies on the dollar compared to male coworkers. And the LGBT community was so hidden away that large parts of the population didn’t even know there was a closet.
So, yes, nostalgia can be a tricky thing. It blinds the mind to all that was negative. It makes you long for an ideal past that probably wasn’t so ideal after all.
And nostalgia in some ways is the antithesis of what this country is all about. Nostalgia always looks backwards. America has always looked forward. Always. We have always strived to be a leader. To make progress. We started this country to create a new kind of government. To have freedom for all — no taxation without representation. We strive to lead the way in intellectual areas. We fought to be the first in space. We strive to find cures for diseases. We strive to find solutions to the ills of our societies.
I have always viewed us as the big brother of the planet. The one the rest of our sibling countries around the world look up to. Yes, we struggle. Yes, we make mistakes. But we always move forward. Find our way. And the rest of the world sees that and wants to be like that. Or wants to come here because of that.
Now, of course, I know not everyone likes America. Not everyone wants to be us, but that is how I see our place in the world. Or at least that’s what we’ve always been in my mind until now.
In my lifetime, we have come such a long way. We have made great progress. Equality for everyone has come much closer to reality than it ever has before. Be it African Americans, the LGBT community, women – whoever. We’re not 100 percent there, but we’re a lot closer than we were 40 years ago.
So, even though I look back from time to time, it isn’t because I want to return to some previous time. We’re not about going back. We’re about progress. Improving. Being better for everyone. We build upon what have done – allowing more and more people to grow and prosper. That is who America is.
Nostalgia. It is tricky. I don’t want to go back. I want to revive those values that created America. Revive progress. Revive leadership and equality. Revive the idea that others are welcome here. That we’re the place to create a better life for yourself and your family. I want us to be that light for the rest of the world. That imperfect but always improving beacon of hope that we have always been.
Inspiration is not backwards focused. I want America to inspire again.
Let Us Begin
America, do not dare to retire
Let us rise to inspire
Do not let us fade into night
Let us be that guiding light
Let the world follow us
Let us keep our rebelliousness
Let us welcome one and all
Let us protect both big and small
Let us fight for equality
Let us overcome our frailties
Let us lead a brand new age
Let us shed our hatred and rage
Let us not allow the divide
Let us be equal side by side
Let us progress once again
Let us start now – let us begin