Here’s the hard truth: The United States of America has never been great. I’m sorry if that hurts your feelings, but it’s something we all need to keep in mind. 

America itself has never been great, but we have the privilege of seeing American greatness when citizens are willing to make sacrifices on behalf of those weaker than themselves. That means taking steps toward equality and fighting for the weakest among us. We’ve seen greatness in the movements to secure voting rights, labor rights, civil rights and human rights. The patriots who led those movements are examples of greatness because they’ve been willing to acknowledge our flaws as a society.

Greatness is every attempt to unite us rather than divide us; President Donald Trump is doing the latter and has always fostered division.

We inch toward greatness when we address the mistakes we’ve made and take actions to rectify the harm that’s been done. As long as there’s a national movement to ignore our mistakes or, worse, a commitment to repeating them, America will lie in squalor. For example, police brutality and racism in policing are as much of a national health crisis as COVID-19.

Protests are not about disrespecting the flag or any other nonsense argument; they’re about addressing the perversion of “serve and protect.” They’re about outright abuse toward our citizens. If we address police brutality and hold abusive officers to account rather than assaulting those who are peacefully protesting, we’ll have glimpsed American greatness.


Christopher DeWalt