The Jewish Americans is a PBS documentary that chronicles 350 years of Jews in America. It has been fascinating to watch. It is always inspiring to see the great challenges that immigrants must and do overcome in order to make a life in this country. With no more than a dream in their pockets, they can achieve liberty, education and wealth. It is sad however, to see the prejudice, unkindness and suspicion that immigrants many times encounter. Unfortunately, as so often happens when we study history, we find ourselves repeating it.
As a culture we seem to worry about every new and different group of people who try to come and make a home in this country even though each of our ancestors were part of a goup considered different and suspicious at one time. And, even though, the fabric of our nation would be less rich and I believe less strong without every one of these groups.
The people who are attracted to this country, no matter where they originate, often have a thirst for freedom and for opportunity. They must overcome great odds to get here. The first generation most often does not really benefit; the sacrifice is made for their children who do benefit and their grandchildren who benefit greatly.
Two years ago, I read one of the best books I've ever read called Benjamin Franklin An American Life by Walter Isaacson. I wish that I could find the direct quote, but in that book there is a quote by Franklin where he says that America's wealth and greatness does not come from her gold or collective resources, but from her industry. Could anything be more true? Our wealth is truly the collective greatness of our people, of their creativity, and their collective labor. Our wealth is in the minds and hands of our artists and scientists, our laborers and farmers. In my neighborhood, I know the people in each home and can be amazed when I begin to think of what each person contributes to make our society, our neighborhood and our nation so much greater.
When we as a nation, and our politicians especially, finally understand that our wealth is in our people, our people of every variety, then we will finally and truly be, "One Nation Under God, Indivisible, With Liberty & Justice for All."