This Thanksgiving, if ever, is the time to consider what makes America great. Since characterization of greatness has lacked some clarity this season, this citizen-author would like to submit the following definitions:
Greatness honors the rule of law, which is bigger than any leader or any movement. A great nation’s leader learns from, rather than antagonizes, his adversaries. Greatness sets an example. A great nation rules itself with wise decisions made with reflection.
Greatness is not measured in manufactured products, but in inventiveness and innovation. Greatness is not how many factories there are, but how new solutions to problems are found. Greatness is holding on at times, but being willing to change at others.
Greatness isn’t having the wherewithal to take and eat the largest slice of the pie. Greatness is the ability to make a larger pie. Greatness is not about cunning, but rather is the kind of thinking that finds the third way, a path that creates more good for all.
Greatness is being part of a community and sharing things with those like oneself, and yet seeking the happiness of those who are different. Greatness welcomes; it does not exclude. It looks to learn from differences.
A great society lifts up the vulnerable, the downtrodden, the weak. A great society protects and defends those who have little. Greatness seeks the common good above the enrichment of the wealthy; greatness gives opportunity to all, rather than giving more power to the strong.
Greatness is both recognizing and admitting wrong, and learning from experiences. Greatness strives to become better. Greatness seeks wise counsel. Greatness is clothed in both experience and humility.
To be great is not to boast, but to listen. Greatness does not make others know of one’s importance, but finds out what is important to others.
Greatness is stepping out of one’s own history, and understanding the experience, attitudes, and beliefs of others. Greatness is finding what others value; it is seeking to understand their hopes and dreams.
Greatness seeks truth. Greatness does not hide, but reveals. Greatness allows itself to be challenged.
Greatness learns from the past, improves the present, and looks toward the future. Greatness thinks of a better world for children and grandchildren.
Greatness is not being all these things, but striving toward that goal, of seeking to become them.