Principle 1: America is Good

– Zach Ricks


I’ve been talking about principles.

I keep going on and on about these principles. I think that the answers to some of the great problems that are facing us today can be solved by proper understanding and application of principles. I’ll admit, that to some who may be unfamiliar with them, (and perhaps to some who are), this seems like a simplistic view of things. I’ll admit, it’s simple. But simple doesn’t always mean easy, just like complex doesn’t always mean right. The 9-12 organization is a loose group of relatively like-minded people who believe in a series of principles and values: Nine of one, and twelve of the other.

The principles are:

1. America is Good.

2. I believe in God and He is the Center of my Life

3. I must always try to be a more honest person than I was yesterday.

4. The family is sacred. My spouse and I are the ultimate authority, not the government.

5. If you break the law, you pay the penalty. Justice is blind, and no one is above it.

6. I have a right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, but there is no guarantee of equal results.

7. I work hard for what I have, and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable.

8. It is not un-American for me to disagree with authority or to share my personal opinion.

9. The government works for me. I do not answer to them; they answer to me.

And the values are:

1. Honesty

2. Reverence

3. Hope

4. Thrift

5. Humility

6. Charity

7. Sincerity

8. Moderation

9. Hard Work

10. Courage

11. Personal Responsibility

12. Gratitude

And I’d like to talk a little bit about each principle and what it means to me over the days ahead. Again, they seem pretty simple, but there’s a lot packed into each one.

America is good. I’m tempted to leave that there, it seems so readily apparent, but of course, not everyone agrees, and it’s sloppy to make an assertion without some support.

And this is an assertion. Of course, if we look around, we see a lot of people claiming that we aren’t good – that in fact, we are evil. Depending on the speaker, we might be stupid, boorish, greedy, fat, obnoxious, killers, or Nazis. There’s even a special term for us: The Ugly American.

America has been called a mistake (Sigmund Freud), Monstrous (Harold Pintner), a threat to world peace (Nelson Mandela), and “The Great Enemy of Mankind” (Che Guevara). And granted, we’ve made mistakes over the years. I’m not ignoring that.

But all too often, rather than accepting our history “warts and all”, we’re shown nothing but warts. Rather than be inspired by the great struggle for independence and the documents that founded this nation, we’re constantly reminded of how the Founders allowed slavery. Rather than learn the struggles of pioneers who moved west despite great personal sacrifice, and their efforts to colonize and civilize a wild country, we’re told about smallpox blankets.

For a while, it seemed that there was one moment that was free of this cynical view of America. World War II. The Greatest Generation, it’s been called. And yet, in recent weeks, it’s been asserted that our war against the Japanese was primarily based on racism.

Did we allow slavery? Yes. Did we mistreat the Native Americans, reneging on treaties, and forcing them onto reservations? Yes. Were there and are there yet racists in this country? Yes. No one is denying that. We have warts. But we are not all warts. Now, I could go into a lot of facts and figures here, talking about charitable giving (#1 as a percentage of GDP, more than twice the percentage of the next largest giver), or things Americans have invented to save and improve lives around the globe (everything from the polio vaccine to the integrated circuit, and including sliced bread), but I think I’d rather pass you off to someone who’s already done the necessary footwork.

Bill Whittle is, in my humble opinion, one of the best essayists now living. In September of last year, he wrote a bit of a column where he talks about how America compares with other nations in four key areas – militarily, economically, scientifically, and culturally.

NOTE: at one point in the essay, he quotes Bill Maher. Now, there’s wrong, and there’s rotten, and Maher is both. He has a habit of saying shocking things, and this quote is pretty darn shocking. If you don’t want to read it, and believe me, you don’t, skip blithely by the paragraph that says “Liberal intellectual Bill Maher then went on to write…” and pick up afterward.

America is good. Heck, America is exceptional. And Whittle proves it.

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