Can We Make America Live?
(Written as a speechread aloud)
With all her faults, we have to love America. We Americans have a wealth of things to make us grateful. Our greatest fault, though, is that we are too blind to see these advantages: to apt to take them for granted; and in this lies our greatest fault.
Compare what we have with what others have. What right have we to let negative criticism be, to such an extent, our theme song? Democracy is likened to an organism which must be healthy. We, its citizens, are its cells.
We must let our appreciation of the blessings of our country keep our faith strong and our ideas healthy and constructive.
America's enemies make capital of every spot where we, as citizens, fail Democracy. The echo of every bit of graft and every intolerance resounds round the word and becomes a weapon for those who would destroy us. Our carelessness as votersour ignorance of candidates and issuesallows the faults of our country to persist as a weakness when we most need the utmost strength.
These are the breaks, made by ourselves, in the dikes of our protection. These things happen in America because certain of us (forgetting the gratitude we owe our country and the duties it entails if America is to live) work selfishly, instead of for the glorious American dream.
Now, more than ever, we have causes to consider: two wars in one half of the world, and meager existence and unrest in the other. The peoples of the world, plagued by memories of the long terror, battle past. But now, anew, a battle of men's minds, the aggressors seeking to destroy us, plunges our vast modern-day society ever closer into chaos. No one wants chaos, but it is coming, unless you and I stand up for intelligent thinking, right decision, together with the founding spiritual inspiration. It's time for peace, now, not war. And we may keep the peace only by acting, not just with words, but deeds.
Turn then, to the foundation of intelligent thinking, the truth, an everlasting establishment, waiting even now, to be explored in the interest of all humanity. Once the spiritual inspiration has been attempted, the truth sought, intelligent thinking grows and right decision, after a time, becomes manifest.
What, then, can we do?
Better the society we live in. Concentrate on our foundations, our standard of living, our human relationsin the church, the home, the school, the community. Strive to make secure our children's inheritance.
Let us, then, in order to fulfill nature's expectations, express that spiritual inspiration, intelligent thinking, and right decision on all matters.
We cannot always look for "someone to do something." We must do something for ourselves and those who will follow, if not for our own America.
Each day, we peoples of the world are heading with incredible speed towards a closer relationship: black, white, and yellow uniting with common interests. We seem to be progressing into a state where we will no longer discriminate against religion and color, but between good and bad.
Let us work, then, in the faith that men will govern someday with calm cooperation for their own ultimate future. And working for this end, this simple expression of the vast higher intelligence would be accepted throughout the world. And each who carries this thought in him will rise to glory in the eyes of the highest, and in the eyes of the lowest will succeed to fame.
Time has come to appreciate the blessings America gives us, and, concentrating on these with grateful hearts, let us, as the living citizens, cells of Democracy, highly resolve that those who went before and built this land of glorious freedom shall not have worked and planned and bledand diedin vain.
If we love and appreciate our land, and, inspired by that consciousness of blessing, do each our part to protect Democracy and make it function, always a little bit betterAmerica will go forth in triumph!
And a weary world will follow our lead.
(From a speech given by George Thornally, age 15, at Oakland High School, Oakland, California, 1951. This condensed version was edited by Lani Herrmann for publication in the Honolulu Star Bulletin, 1952.)
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