If modern politics in the U.S. tell us anything, it’s that Americans have a hard time agreeing on anything. This is what makes the question of “What are American values?” A difficult one. No matter what you say, there’s going to be someone else who disagrees. This is why I think a lot of statements people make about “American Creed” are difficult to substantiate. There are things that other Americans have called their creed that I’d never want to associate with. When you have a widely diverse country with over 300 million people, it’s difficult to find things that the whole population has in common.
Since no one can agree on anything, what can you possibly call American creed? I think it’s the fact that no one has to agree on anything. As an American, you have the right to think and express your thoughts freely, and you have no obligation to conform to a set of beliefs. You are guaranteed the right to be able to speak and express yourself as you please, as is stated in our First Amendment(US Constitution Amend. I). However, this does not mean that others have to agree with you; they have equal right to express their beliefs and even their disagreement with yours. This is what makes our culture so rich: It is made up not by any core set of beliefs but by a whole society worth of differing views and opinions.
As an American, it is your right to question any belief or institution that is thrust upon you(Bono 67). There is no set of beliefs or method of thinking that you must adopt. This is part of what it means to be a democracy. Throughout history, Americans have time and time again openly expressed discontent with the government. Without the ability to voice these opinions, we have no freedom(Locke).
These freedoms are what enable America to become what it has. Free speech and free thought cause new ideas and cultures to flourish and society to progress.
US Constitution Amend. I
Bono, Edward De. Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step. Harper Colophon Books, 1973.
Locke, John. The Second Treatise of Civil Government and A Letter Concerning Toleration. Oxford :B. Blackwell, 1948. Print.
Photo by Patrick Hoesly