"America is an idea"
This summer, I visited the Alamo for the second time, but the first time did not affect me quite so deeply. Perhaps the first time I did not know the history as well. Or perhaps the events of today more vividly reminded me of what these men fought and died for. What particularly struck me was the list of men who died. Close to two hundred men gave their lives against the formidable force of Santa Ana's army. And not all of them were "American." Some came from various countries in Europe, some were Tejano and one was a freed black man. But they were united in a vision and dedication to liberty akin to that which encouraged a handful of colonies in the New World to stand up to the greatest military force of the world.

I know that the President has received some criticism recently for stating that "America is an idea." But that much I agree with him on. It is an idea which was embraced in the Federalist Papers, in the writings of John Locke and in our Constitution. It is etched in the pedestal of the statue of Liberty as a poem by Emma Lazarus.
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
The idea of America is what unites us as a people. Not our skin color, our birthplace, our wealth or our borders or even our native language. We have always been a nation of "plurality." Immigrants from around the world naturally settled close to one another, forming communities that were distinctively Swedish, German, Dutch, Chinese, etc. Here in the Midwest, some of the best schools once operated in German and we had several German language newspapers, a practice that began to die out during World War I.

What united the early settlers, gave vision to our Founding Fathers and brought such a diverse group of people to fight and die at the Alamo (not to mention the rest of America's wars) is nothing more than an idea.
...that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...
Unfortunately, it is an idea that seems to be fading. The top concern professionals seem to have with homeschooling is "socialization." This isn't about children of similar ages learning how to play nicely, develop relationships and deal with conflict. It is about providing the context for imparting a uniform set of beliefs.
Successful socialization can result in uniformity within a society. If all children receive the same socialization, it is likely that they will share the same beliefs and expectations. This fact has been a strong motivation for national governments around the world to standardize education and make it compulsory for all children. Deciding what things will be taught and how they are taught is a powerful political tool for controlling people. Those who internalize the norms of society are less likely to break the law or want radical social changes. In all societies, however, there are individuals who do not conform to culturally defined standards of normalcy because they were "abnormally" socialized, which is to say that they have not internalized the norms of society. These people are usually labeled by their society as deviant or even mentally ill.
But we do not have to look the same, speak the same or even worship the same to be a part of America. We do not have to have a uniform society, a culturally defined standard of normalcy or internalized societal norms. We do not have to be "socialized." We just need to share in one common idea that is America.

Hat Tip: AcceptanceWithJoy

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