I recently found myself in a discussion about what personality characteristics make a person a good American. What I realized through the course of the discussion was that there wasn’t a lot of disagreement about the personality characteristics. The disagreements arose as to what actions would be spurred by those desired personality characteristics. For instance, virtually everyone in the discussion agreed that paying attention to what our government does and speaking out against those things we disagreed with is a prerequisite to being a good American. The disagreements arose over what is acceptable as “speaking out”.
So, here’s a list of the personality characteristics we felt were important to being a good American. I’ll try to avoid discussion about what each means to me personally or any other subjective comments. Bear in mind, I’m human and imperfect.
- Honesty: We all agreed that lying is immoral and, depending on the context in which a person lies, probably unethical as well. We did not feel that liars made “good Americans”.
- Courage: Looking back at the history of our great nation it was undeniable that our country was founded by men and women of great courage. If we’re going to honor their memory and be good Americans we agreed that we must strive to display and act with equal courage.
- Hard Working: Without a doubt, there have been lazy people populating our country since its inception. However, if you consider what it took to simply survive two hundred years ago, lazy people didn’t thrive and certainly wouldn’t stand much of a chance of a long life. Although that circumstance is different today, we all agreed that good Americans aren’t comfortable accepting charity or government support. We distinguished between government assistance and government support. We agreed that everyone needs assistance at some point and accepting it from the government may well be the only option due to circumstance. However, “assistance” is short lived and only what is required to get back on your feet. There’s a reasonable time limit. “Support” is what many people are getting today.
- Spiritual: No matter what your religious faith may be, or if you subscribe to no particular faith while still holding spiritual beliefs… we agreed that some type of spiritual belief structure is required to inspire moral and charitable behavior – both of which we felt were necessary and desirable characteristics in good Americans.
Beyond that we couldn’t agree on much. Still, as I look at it, that’s a pretty good chunk of desired personality characteristics.
I’d love to “hear” (read) your thoughts on what a good American is. Please share them.
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