Americans like to call this the greatest nation the world has ever known. Let’s remember what made it great.
America became great because she granted land to most of her early citizens. With land, individuals and families were assured of never, or rarely, staying in debt. Being credit-worthy meant being free. The land contained resources — water, minerals, timber, transit rights, and sub-parcels — that could be sold when needed to cover debts. In time, land became available to all, to a degree.
America also became great because of the practices of our ancestors. Those whose blood we have in us were animated by a code of ethics that inspired them to endless economic inventiveness, regular civic participation, family solidarity, educational ambition and spiritual backbone.
They believed they had to honor their economic contracts, their political promises, their vows to spouses, their commitments to justice and to heaven and the study of law and democracy. All these things were nonnegotiable.
Families, neighbors, workplaces, marketplaces, the electorate, classrooms, courtrooms and their God absolutely depended upon them to do what they said they would do. Who does not follow, support and lay down his life for one who keeps promises?