The American Experience: The Shining City on a Hill
No nation in history has done more to advance “the pursuit of happiness” for the common man. Casting off the shackles of aristocracy and the evils of tyrannical dictators, our founders created a government “of the people, by the people and for the people,” as Abraham Lincoln said 150 years ago. No nation has done more to advance the cause of freedom or equal rights. No nation has done more to defend the weak, heal the sick, feed the hungry and shelter the poor. And all those accomplishments - overshadowed at times by those who would attempt to deter us through, as JFK said, “the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed.
In the process - and in spite of those who would today denigrate our achievements - Americans built and have sustained a quality of life never before achieved. For all the Pharaohs and all the Kings and all the Caesars and all the Fuehrers who may have built remarkable monuments to their own ego on the backs of second-class citizens, could not and cannot compete with America for promising and delivering such a lifestyle. Even today, rocked by out of control spending and a dangerous pattern of greed and excess in government and business, the American standard of living is unmatched.
This didn’t happen through the grace of any leader or government - it happened by the grace of God and by the hard work and determination of those who have fought and often died to pass along the torch of opportunity generation after generation. And it happened because when America is at her best, her strength is derived from individuals and nuclear families rooted in faith and committed to building a better life for their children, their neighbors, their towns, states and country.
Up With America is working to re-invigorate the spirit of the traditional American Neighborhood by inviting and encouraging members to get to know their neighbors and become actively involved in community affairs.
If the nuclear family forms the bedrock of American society, our neighborhoods once represented an extension of that family - friends and neighbors working together, socializing together, worshiping together and protecting one another. Post WWII shifts in employment opportunities and habits made possible by improved transportation, communication and explosive economic development began breaking down our traditional family neighborhoods. More often than not, neighborhoods that 50 years ago consisted of longstanding “family homes,” are now comprised by a collection of houses temporarily occupied by transient residents. The result? Today’s American family feels little or no “responsibility” to protect his neighbors as his family and friends and oftentimes doesn’t even know most of the residents on their street, much less their neighborhood or community.
In the weeks and months immediately following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Americans were united in defense of one another - viewing the citizens of New York and Washington and the passengers of Flight 93 as neighbors - extended family that needed to be defended and supported. Today, just a few years later, evidence of the deterioration of the traditional neighborhood is on display again. In 2001, New Yorkers were the next door neighbors of citizens in every American city, suburb and town. Today, Americans have retreated back into the solitude of their “transient” houses - unaware and unprepared to serve their neighbors next door or around the nation.
We are commited to reinvigorating that great American spirit - one person, one family, one street, one neighborhood, one town, one city and one state at a time.
Origins: Our “Shining City on a Hill”
Although made perhaps most popular and memorable by America’s 40th President Ronald Reagan in his farewell address to the nation on January 11, 1989, it was actually our 35th President-Elect John F. Kennedy who helped bring the phrase to prominence during an address delivered to the General Court of Massachusetts some 18 years earlier.
“I have been guided by the standard John Winthrop set before his shipmates on the flagship Arbella three hundred and thirty-one years ago, as they, too, faced the task of building a new government on a perilous frontier. "We must always consider", he said, "that we shall be as a city upon a hill—the eyes of all people are upon us". Today the eyes of all people are truly upon us—and our governments, in every branch, at every level, national, state and local, must be as a city upon a hill — constructed and inhabited by men aware of their great trust and their great responsibilities. For we are setting out upon a voyage in 1961 no less hazardous than that undertaken by the Arbella in 1630. We are committing ourselves to tasks of statecraft no less fantastic than that of governing the Massachusetts Bay Colony, beset as it was then by terror without and disorder within. History will not judge our endeavors—and a government cannot be selected—merely on the basis of color or creed or even party affiliation. Neither will competence and loyalty and stature, while essential to the utmost, suffice in times such as these. For of those to whom much is given, much is required...” ~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy