This is a letter to the People of Russia from an average American. I am not rich, famous or powerful. I did not graduate from an elite university. As a matter of fact, I ran away and was homeless by the age of sixteen. And now? I have problems like anyone else. I owe some taxes. Like most divorced people, my ex-wife is not my “best friend”. I wish I had more in my savings account. In America, these are pretty average problems. I bet that’s the same in your country too. But I have a nice life. I live well, I enjoy my profession and I’m very grateful. I am grateful for many things and one of them is the country I live in. My country is like no other in history. Here in the USA, it is just as likely that your boss could be a woman, a minority or someone whose family was from a different country (like Russia!), as it is that they are a white and / or were born in America. Here, we all have a chance to make something of ourselves. Anyone can own a business and anyone can grow their business into something successful. In America, the size of the dream you can live, is limited only by the size of the dream in your heart. That is America.
America is like a family. A HUGE family. A family with in-laws that some people don’t approve of. A family with one relative that everyone is embarrassed about (can you say Bush?). A family that like any family, has its strengths and weaknesses, its proud moments and it’s moments of shame (again, can you say Bush). And a family that manages to get through the hard times and make the best of it. That is America. ANYONE can make it here. Not always. Not every time. But in every family, someone manages to do well. Someone manages to exceed all expectations.
I grew up in the 1960’s when John F. Kennedy promised us that America was the one country in all of history where ANYONE could be ANYTHING they wanted, if they just tried hard enough. Of course, the darkest period in American History has sucked the soul right out of many of us. Having lived in The Ukraine for just a short while, I’ve met many who know that feeling. But we were blessed in that, the darkest period of our lives, only lasted eight years.
Let me make this clear. I am white. Race had nothing to do with my vote. And I am more proud of my country, than I have been in my entire lifetime. I live in a nation that has been subjected to the most secretive and illegal government in our history. A government that shamed our nation by continually lying to us, breaking our own laws, and breaking the laws of the entire world. We found out that, in the name of a war we didn’t approve of, our leaders illegally imprisoned and even tortured people. We found out that our government was illegally listening in on the phone calls of our very own citizens. And we woke up. Finally, we did something that people in so many countries CAN’T do. We said “No!”. We said “No!” to those who told us that only the sons of the powerful, could become leaders. We said “No!” to those who told us that our sons and daughters should die for causes we didn’t believe in. That once we found out there were no weapons of mass destruction, it was time to stop killing others and killing our own, in the name of the Holy Oil Company. We said “No!” to the idea that there are any limits, to what any American can achieve, regardless of upbringing or color. That is America.
I am just an average American but I can tell you with all certainty, America changed today. The torture which has been a stain on our flag, will end soon. The ignorance, arrogance and hubris with which our leaders have treated the entire globe, is over. Obama is black but we didn’t vote for Obama because he is black. Obama is smart but we didn’t vote for Obama because he is smart. Obama has the calm, humble temperament that is needed in a leader, during extremely difficult times. He has made clear that what is best about America is not found in our military strength but in the strength of our hearts. Gratitude does not come from protecting those who do not want your protection. Diplomacy does not mean weakness. It is the strength of our hearts and purity of our actions, by which others decide to whether to view us with admiration or disdain. That is what has made America great in the past and THAT is why we voted for Obama now. He is America at our best. We have been a great nation dying of thirst for great leadership. I am just an average American but I promise you that soon, the rest of the world will see what I voted for. When I voted for Barack Obama, I voted for America.
Frederick L. Shelton