Being an American means something different to everyone. Since no two people are the same, they will have different views on what values, beliefs, or creeds are most important. Mahatma Gandhi once said “Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.” I believe this quote means that no matter who you are or what you believe, you should always respect others. In politics, this key principle is sometimes missing. People are so close-minded that they won’t even listen to the other side. Although there are plenty of values, I strongly believe equality and individualism are the most crucial ones to Americans.
For decades, men and women have fought for equal rights. The Declaration of Independence states “…all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” (National Archives and Records Administration). I believe The Declaration of Independence is a credible source because it is one of the defining documents of this nation. This is the basis of the American Dream, where anyone can be whoever they want to be. Every American, no matter their gender, race, or faith, has to be treated equally under the law. In recent years, there have been a lot of situations where people of different races or genders have more rights than others, especially in law enforcement. Black people are 2.8 times more likely to die than white people when black victims are more likely to be unarmed (DeGue et al.). Equality is treating everyone fairly, but that’s not what happens in practice. The Emancipation Proclamation states “all persons held as slaves are, and henceforward shall be free” (National Archives and Records Administration). This is a credible source because it was presented by Abraham Lincoln, whose nickname is Honest Abe. Equality has been preached since the beginning of this nation, but this speech was a huge step forward. I believe we haven’t reached true equality yet because the issue became political. Granting people the same rights should never be political. We should be celebrating our differences, not suffering because of them. As a nation, the only way we can grow is to learn from each other.
Individualism moves our country forward. People usually make decisions based on their own gain. From an early age, we have been taught to rely on ourselves. Our economic system is a free market, which promotes individuals to create new goods and services, so they can make the most profit. In Claire Andre and Manuel Velasquez’s “Creating the Good Society,” it states “private governments of the great corporations make decisions on the basis of their own advantage, not of the public good.” (Andre and Velasquez). I believe this source is credible because it is a quote from a book written by sociologists. This mindset is part of the reason why equality has not been achieved. Most Americans don’t care about other people’s problems if it doesn’t affect themselves. I agree that individualism is important to the growth of a person, but we should still be helping each other grow at the same time. There is a fine line between individualism and selfishness. Finding the right balance between the two, is the key to a better nation. I believe that individualism is just as important as equality.
Your beliefs and values as an American citizen will differ from your neighbor’s, but that’s what makes this country amazing. Harry Truman once said “America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination, and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.” Americans are very determined to succeed as individuals. Truman said this so Americans will unite over their differences through their love for the job. Individualism and equality are two fundamental values that every American shares.