By ERNIE FAZIO //
We are about to celebrate the founding of this country, a good time to think about what we elected to call ourselves.
The United States.
Really? Are we still united, or have we allowed ourselves to drift apart?
Maybe we are now like an old marriage that has grown tired and unexciting. But let me caution those among us who think the end is near: It isn’t!
The strength of our fabric is being tested, but that is not new. We have had crises before and serious divides that we eventually dealt with. We will again.
There was nothing in our history that was more divisive than our Civil War – and after killing 600,000 of us, we managed to repair that horrendous chapter of our existence and go on.
Think about the positives that we embrace. With 330 million people, we live in relative peace. But I do not wish to present some Pollyanna version of America, because I realize as well as anybody else this is not a perfect country.
We are like the person who once asked, “Why is it I am always in a state of becoming? Why is it that I never am?”
The person who stops growing is dead, either physically or intellectually. The country that stops growing is also dead. And in the same manner as an individual person, this country has grown in fits and starts.
There may be a hiatus in that growth right now, but that will end, and growth will continue.
Growth also means that our free minds will embrace innovation. That is when innovators flourish and the sky is the limit. Remember, it is no accident that so many new ideas came out of America.
But when I refer to “growth,” I am really looking at the way we treat people. How we devise policies that foster national and world peace.
Over my own lifetime, I have seen an America that created peace and prosperity for us and our trading partners (through the Marshall Plan, for instance). I have seen a country that treated soldiers returning from war fairly (for instance, offering the GI Bill after World War II) and also treated them terribly – from Vietnam all the way back to the American Revolution.
This nation’s founders knew from the beginning that we were not a “finished product.” We still had slavery. Women and the poor could not vote.
Our Constitution was created to form a more perfect union. We were not perfect at birth, and we are not perfect now. But we’ve made adjustments – slavery, voting rights, many others.
No one can deny that we have come a long way – just as no one can deny that we have a long way to go.
I promise you, we will get there. The journey is not over!
Ernie Fazio is chairman of Long Island Metro Business Action, a Ronkonkoma-based member organization focused on Island-wide socioeconomic development.