Putting the 'Great' into a 'Great Nation'
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. - 1963What makes a nation 'great'?
Is it economic might?
Is it military might?
Is it glorious war victories?
Is it a nation that claims it has the right to go to war unprovoked to prevent another nation from using weapons that itself has designed while being the only nation in history to actually use these types of weapons?
Is it a nation whose largest industrial export is war-making equipment?
Is it a nation that spends fifty-six percent of its discretionary budget on its military, while spending only seven percent on educating it's citizenry?
Is it a nation that claims to be overwhelmingly Christian but has forgotten a few simple principles; "thou shalt not kill, turn the other cheek, love your enemies, and do unto others as you'd have done to yourself"?
Is it a nation that has a health care system so expensive that forty-six million of its citizens cannot afford it?
Is it a nation where twenty-five percent of it's homeless and down-trodden are people who supposedly fought in wars to keep it a great nation?
Is it a class structure that leaves the poor behind?
Is it a justice system that favors the rich and ignores the poor? (We all want justice but you've got to have the money to buy it.)
Is it a violent crime rate at least fifty times that of it's next rival?
Is it a broken home rate approaching sixty percent?
Is it a nation that consumes at least forty percent of the world's natural resources while containing only five percent of the population? (If everyone in the world consumed as much as we do, we would need six planets to sustain us.)
Is it a nation that creates a significant amount of the world's air pollution and when asked to join the rest of the world (The Kyoto Protocal) to try to curb the problem says "no, not if it affects our economy"?
Is it a nation that gives 0.1 percent of its GNP to poor nations while other wealthy nations give five percent or fifty times as much?
Is it a nation that has a one party political system disguised as a two party system, excludes all other parties from national election debates, and claims to be the last bastion of democracy?
Or could a great nation be one that values justice and equality above all and for all, both social and economic?
Or is it a nation that works toward racial and social harmony by education its citizenry on how discrimination is destructive and not constructive?
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This story was published on December 4, 2002.