An American By Choice

The flame of freedom is often best seen reflected in immigrant eyes.

This week I was getting my A/C serviced. While waiting on the patio for the parts to come in and get replaced I sat and talked to the shop owner, who offered me tea. He told me his name is Nick.

Nick imigrated from Iran after the Shah and the Hostage Crisis. He told me that he used to work for the government and that they paid him very well. When the new leaders, under the Ayatolah, come to power they promised that they would not become a religious government. But then they went ahead and did.

It was after the new government had turned away from their promises, that they broke the trust of the public. And it was after breaking the trust of the government that Nick decided to leave the country. When he woke up and broke the news to his wife she said, "Where will we go to? Europe?" No, he said, "The U.S." He told her, "I want to raise my children in a country with a constitution. The U.S. constitution."

I have often heard the best explainations of what America stands for from people who have seen it from afar.

We argue over whether the Founding Fathers were perfect examples of their ideal, but we forget the profound significance of their ideal. A constitutional government based on individual rights was a very unusual idea on July 4th, 1776. But it has been coppied all over the world, with varying grades of success. We still see other countries attempting to re-establish a just form of government in their own lands. 

Nick told me that in Iran there is a strong feeling of sympathy with the U.S., mostly among young, educated people. I was reminded of the "Green Revolution", which occurred just before the "Arab Spring". It was brutally crushed by the Iranian government.

The dream of freedom of speech, freedom to pursue you own life and your own happiness, the freedom to teach your own values to your children, and freedom from control and surveilance are still alive in the people who flood our shores, even if so many Americans have forgotten it.


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