On the train to Chicago, I sat with a man who was returning home and our conversation included the crime on the South-side of this US “Midwestern” mecca. Actually the topic was the Summer Games bid that Chicago made some time ago and if they were going to bid again in the future, but local-boy Tony commented that the bid included land development and use on the south side of the city and it was pointless to think it was possible to hold an international sporting event in that environment. Violence and a culture of violence were unrepairable or unchangeable when those you seek to help don’t want to be helped. I disagreed emphatically, because I’ve been overseas enough to have seen some of humanity’s greatest carelessness with humanity and although it may not be my place to say what should or shouldn’t be in another country, for my homeland there’s simply no way I’ll accept a disregard for people as status-quo. We’re Americans—each of us—and we have exactly what it takes to help each other and do what we need to ensure that future generations of Americans do not have life-long joblessness or live in fear of being shot dead by the time they reach high school or graduate pregnant simply because there was no real choice in the matter.
Tony mentioned the value of education but he agreed that first there had to be an understanding of the value of education. An essential first step in education is realizing one’s dignity and potential worth and as a human and an American. Throwing money at a neighborhood and expecting effective use of that money is foolish if you want to do anything more than exercise your private or public vanity; better to invest in a neighborhood. For all involved parties, from committed investment comes a broader understanding of one’s self and the groups to which he or she belongs. As an American, I said, I reject the idea that the people of the South-side of Chicago or anywhere in the United States should be accepted as being too hopeless a cause. This belief may be acceptable in some of the many countries I’ve traveled but it’s not okay in mine—not here at home—not in America. For no other reason than you are an American do you deserve to be treated with dignity—period. This isn’t conditional. I’ve neither exception to this nor liberal or conservative interpretation.
And from this general principal come the decisions that motivate and inspire people because anything’s possible in America and our uniqueness in the world as innovators of our own destiny has not exclusively been corrupt, calamitous or controversial. Some argue that we have taken to resting on the laurels of our grandfathers and grandmothers, but I say that we are our grandparents’ descendants and the light that shone in them remains to shine in us. Add to that fortune our status as an immigrant nation—where through diversity we have empowered ourselves and demonstrated some of the best and brightest moments in the history of this world. We Americans have everything we need because we are everything we need.
As breakfast arrived and another gentleman joined our table, I enjoyed hearing Tony-from-Chicago’s opinion and agreed with just about everything he said because he spoke in general truths; however, these truths have become political cliches in the US and taglines for the apathetic cause. As I told Tony, I refuse to regard any of my country’s people as hopeless causes. No American is a hopeless cause. No American is okay to discount, but since we obviously see some people in this way it really only makes clear how much we continue to need each other and how truly divine is our purpose because the need is for Americans to help Americans. Chicago will and will not bid again for the Summer Games, but will Americans allow and encourage the denial of our valuable eclectic human resource and will we fail to realize our full, historically-proven human potential? Can we afford to completely disregard these questions as we do some of our fellow Americans?