Samuel Jones | Contributor
About a month ago, Taylor University hosted a speaker to discuss the topic of current politics. The speaker selected was John Fea, history department chair from Messiah College. Fea asked us a question at the end of his lecture.
"When was America great?" asked Fea. "If you can identify a time, then we can make a moral estimation on whether or not that era was really truly great."
I plan to do just that. After all, what's the point of a question if there's no answer?
The very ideals on which America was established were revolutionary to their time. Jakob Miller, assistant professor of political science at Taylor, has a good outlook on the subject.
"The government 'has a purpose,' and that was a revolutionary statement in of itself," Miller said. "Its purpose was to make its citizens' lives better. We believe in the fundamental dignity of humanity, and the government exists to protect those rights." Thomas Jefferson would agree using his famous statement, 'All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.'"
Freedom is another great pillar of America. Fea has the freedom to come to Taylor and express his views on certain subjects, just like I have the freedom to critique the views with which I may not agree. America operates as a nation where anyone can state any opinion to incite civil discourse and dialogue and encourage continual growth as a society. Tom Jones, dean of humanities, arts and biblical studies believes that freedom is the idea behind the founding of America as a nation.
"One of the most fundamental factors was the desire to be free," Jones stated. "Freedom not just in a political sense, but freedom in a personal sense, freedom to establish your own sense of destiny."
Everyone, male and female, has the freedom to pursue any life that they wish. This freedom isn't something that you have to earn or pay for, it's recognized as an unalienable right.
However, there is certainly no doubt that our country has had its dark moments. Miller agrees with Fea's claim on this subject.
"I agree wholeheartedly (with Fea)," Miller said. "American history is full of black marks and stains upon the ideals of America. The mere fact that we allowed slavery to exist is a horrendous stain upon the ideals of freedom. But I don't know that 'free from flaws' is somehow the opposite of 'being great.'"
Within its original conception, the Constitution did not offer immediate equality to certain groups, such as people of color, women or homosexuals.
"Throughout history, those specific groups have become the focus of reforms, and the Constitution has been extended to encompass these groups and others," Jones said.
America is by no means a perfect nation. However, the very ideals that our nation was founded on were designed to promote growth and prosperity for everyone.
"We are not perfect, but we can become more," Jones said. "And I think if we don't recognize that, then it's not a matter of 'can we become great again,' it becomes a question of 'can we sustain these freedoms?'"
America has never fallen short of greatness, nor has it ever been in a position of needing to "be made great again." The United States of America operates in such a way that you can exercise your unalienable rights, and no one has the right, nor the power, to take that away from you. That is why America is a great nation.