Time for a new national motto for the United States

April 29, 2007 | By | 4 Replies More

I’m really tired of hearing the sorts of things most patriotic Americans utter to express what they believe to be the national character of the United States.  Consider some of the most common expressions: “The Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.”  Or consider “The Greatest Country in the World.”  Many Americans proclaim America to be a “Shining Beacon” or “The World’s Greatest Democracy.”

The problem with these mottos is that they are dead-end declarations.  The people who repeat these platitudes are spending their time spinning propaganda rather than spending their energy and time to improve their country.  This is an extremely important point, because running a democracy is a process that is never ending. The mottos most Americans use to describe America do not inspire Americans to work hard so that their country conforms to these mottos.  Instead, these mottos are questionable declarations that we are an inherently “great” country, no matter what we do.

A couple days ago, I spent some time at the grade school my daughters attend: New City School in St. Louis.  Posted prominently at the school are the following inspirational words:

Truth, Trust, Personal Best, Active Listening, No Putdowns.

As I read this, it struck me that the Bush administration aspires to be the antithesis of each and every element of this school motto.  This thought stopped me dead in my tracks.  Isn’t it surreal that our government leaders have excelled at trashing the words of wisdom that we teach to our children?  Consider these words, one by one:

Truth?  Not from this administration.  We’ve seen this administration uttering a quantity of bald face lies that was unthinkable prior to the 2000 election.

Trust?  They got to earn it and they haven’t.  The current administration is living in an alternate reality. We can only trust that members of this administration, the inner cabal, who will continue to act out their fantasy world until they are removed from office.  Trust a Muslim country?  Only at the end of a barrell of a gun or a barrell of oil.

Personal best?  Iraq?  New Orleans?  Investigating 9/11?  Abu Ghraib & Guantánamo, the firings of federal prosecutors?  Dozens of other things to choose from, so take your pick.

Active listening?  Forget about it.  Instead of active listening, they have staged press conferences and transparent doublespeak shamelessly shoveled to the citizens.  They talk at other people, not with them.

No putdowns?  Consider all of the neocon putdowns we’ve heard: Thoughtful citizens who were opposed to the Iraq invasion.  Gays.  Democrats.  Liberals. Those who believe that the Patriot Act stripped Americans of their civil liberties.  Those who question the President are the enemy. 

My point is that what is good for children is good for our country.  We would be much better off to adopt a national motto that inspired us to become a better nation.  Therefore, I hereby nominate the inspirational words used by my daughters’ school as the new national motto for the United States of America: Truth, Trust, Personal Best, Active Listening, No Putdowns.

Oh yeah, and for all of those neocons that haven’t yet jumped ship, implicit within these principles is the right to defend our country when it is actually being attacked, but only by using physical force against those who are actually attacking the United States.  Or is that too radical an idea?

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Category: Communication, Iraq, Language, Politics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (4)

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  1. Mary says:

    Well said, Erich. Makes me wonder if our current administration completely bypassed elementary school.

  2. Erika Price says:

    I don't get the virtue of "trust". It seems naive to place utmost trust in someone else without basis. Yet we shouldn't hold people too critically- maybe "respect" instead?

  3. Tim Hogan says:

    I propose "Ubi est mea?" or "where's mine" for all the tax breaks, corporate welfare, corruption, scandal and sheer unadulterated hypocrisy of the Bush administration, the GOP and the rest of the right wing neocon Brown Shirt weblog echochambering yobbo yappers!

    John Edwards for President in'08!

  4. steve Mac says:

    Bravo, Erich. My feeling exactly. I visited New City on April 12 and 13 2006 and I had the same feeling. I felt a little shallow or immature when the idea first hit me. "It's too simple." I thought, "It's a complex world and who will respect such a child-like approach to life." Well, other children will respect us… and it is children or near-children who are blowing themselves up to push us away… Anyway, bravo.

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