From the Master of Kadosh (July, 2009)

posted May 15, 2015, 2:51 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite   [ updated May 15, 2015, 2:51 PM ]
“Happy Birthday, America!" So sang the young family in the front yard of their home in Montpelier, Idaho on the sunny afternoon of July 4 two years ago as my sister and I drove past. It was a touching moment for us but not the way you might think. She is a college professor and agnostic. I'm a hands-on, 12-years-to-graduate-college guy and gnostic (direct opposite of an agnostic). We had an interesting discussion about the meaning of America's birthday.
Many people use the term "America" when they refer to "The United States of America." The USA was born on July 4, 1776 with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Her conception took place not decades but centuries earlier. And she is still a work-in-progress.
During the July 4 holiday, we often talk about the people and the ideas that formed the basis for our country. We reflect on heroic moments during the Revolutionary War, the Boston Tea party, and other events of the late 18th century. Yet to have a country, you also need a place, a physical location. You must have land. This July 4, I'm thinking about the land we call America.
My ancestors came to the United States from Europe at different times from the 17th through the 19th centuries. I do not have reliable information about all of them.  Most of us here today are not originally from this land, and our nation is not original, either. As we all know, beginning in the 1500s, the Europeans began to displace the native populations of two complete continents. The land was theirs long before it became ours. Yet based on new archeological evidence, there were significant geographical shifts in populations during centuries before the Europeans came. So who can say that what we think of as natives are not themselves ancient encroachers upon pre-historic inhabitants?
People are still coming to live in the USA. The Europeans have been here so long that we consider ourselves to be the natives, even the owners. Some of us view the newcomers with suspicion, as trespassers. I know several Naturalized Americans (people from somewhere else who became US citizens) who navigated the immigration maze, or who are trying to bring relatives here after 9/11. After hearing their stories, all I can say is, be glad you were born here!
I work for an offshore company, that is, a company whose headquarters is in another country. If you look at our company website, you don't get that impression, but that is the reality of the matter. The majority of the people I work with were not born in the US. Nor is English their native language. Some are here on permanent visas. A few have become naturalized US citizens. We have regular visits by employees from other offices. Lots of VoIP calls, too. Communication is an ongoing challenge, to say the least.
One guy, a friend of mine, recently gathered up his family and moved back home to China. Before departing, he said to me, "Everybody asks me, why don't you want to stay in America? Why are you going back to China?" Of course, that was exactly what I was thinking, but I was too embarrassed to admit it. So I asked cleverly, "How did you respond?" He said, "China is my home. My whole family is there. I can find a house there." I understood that. After two years in South America, I was ready to come home, too.
I guess not everybody in the world wants to come to America or to be an American. Those who do are looking for a fresh start, or maybe an escape from poverty, oppression, overcrowding, of lack of opportunity common to much of the world. That's why my great grandfather came and why I'm still here. It reminds me of the favorite Woody Guthrie song, written in 1940 and recorded in 1944:
This land is your land, this land is my land  From California to the New York Island  From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters This land was made for you and me.

Daniel Doornbos  -  Master of Kadosh