What Does (Did) it Mean to be an American?

What Does (Did) it Mean to be an American?

There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.

Bill Clinton

If we could all sit down at the dining room table with some coffee and have a friendly discussion (that’s gonna have to be a big table), I think we could get back to basic core principles of what it means to be American, then everything could flow from those principles. Right now, Americans are all tied up in knots we can’t seem to untie. We have lost our way how to get along, to experience that good and powerful feeling of solidarity.

What does it mean to be an American? It is defined by what we believe in, what we do, and what we don’t do, that can be common to everyone:

  • Americans don’t like to be told what to do; however, they will come together in solidarity to help, protect, care for, and save fellow Americans.
  • Americans believe in family first.
  • Americans believe in the Golden Rule.
  • Americans are humble. We don’t brag; we are not vain.
  • Americans celebrate the team. We don’t say I, we say We.
  • Americans stand up and speak out against tyranny.
  • Americans don’t blame others; we are accountable.
  • Americans don’t practice nepotism.
  • Americans are civil both in person and online.
  • Americans are trustworthy. We don’t lie, we don’t exaggerate.
  • Americans are consistent. We don’t flip-flop.
  • Americans are loyal to family, friends, partners, and allies.
  • Americans take no satisfaction in bankruptcy at the expense of employees, suppliers, lenders, and investors.
  • Americans believe in democracy, free and fair elections, active civil participation, and majority rules.
  • Americans respect the rule of law applied equally and fairly to all citizens.
  • Americans allow and expect each other to keep leaders and government honest and accountable.
  • Americans respect all religions, but we separate church from state.
  • Americans embrace all refugees and immigrants, as we are descended from them.
  • Americans don’t discriminate against each other based on age, race, sex/gender, or religion.
  • Americans don’t unilaterally invade other countries, but we do defend our democratic shores and we help our allies when they call us for help.
  • Americans believe in the protection of human rights for all people of all countries.
  • Americans protect our citizens wherever they may be.
  • Americans think BIG, but we spend less than we earn.

How do Americans get back to our shared core values?

How do we get our leaders to lead from these values?


The American Experiment: Dialogues on a Dream
by David M. Rubenstein

Big Questions

Where does all this hate for American Asians and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) come from?

  • How do we fight it?
  • Is racism predominantly instinctive (nature) or learned (nurture)?

Big Picture

Big Picture / History / World Since 1920 / United States Since 1920 / Americanism

25 Rules of Considerate Conduct


Civil Society vs Dystrumpia

Family, Parenting, Grandparenting

Family, Parenting, Grandparenting

Re-Consolidating the Family

The pandemic kick-started a wave of remote workers who have chosen to go wherever they want to work and raise a family. And it is not always just to warmer weather. We’ve seen kids of friends we have moving back to Champaign-Urbana to consolidate the family, take advantage of grandma and grandpa being nearby for babysitting etc., and in spite of the Illinois winters, enjoy a better overall quality of life.

You can’t put a price on having your family back home all together again.


Big Questions

What are your family traditions?

After separating, how do you co-parent as a team?

How can the built environment help children cultivate self-reliance?

Are you frustrated with a screen-obsessed kid?

  • At what age should a child be given a cell phone?
  • Is it a good idea for kids to be asking for answers to important questions from digital assistants?
  • Is this practice interfering with the learning process?

Are overprotective parents raising a generation that can’t grow up?

Can we get kids to listen without yelling in anger?

Big Picture

Big Picture / Human Society / Social Groups / Family

We All Want The Same Thing

The simple act of walking the streets of Europe at dusk with the glow of lights inside the homes and apartments of families at the dinner table in animated conversation, showed me in the most memorable and powerful way that we all want the same thing: happy productive families in a secure home with a future ahead.



Love over a lifetime has many colors. 

In the beginning, love is hot red and pink and black and white.

As we age, love turns to green and brown and blue
like a majestic tree with roots sunk deep,
reaching for the sky and stars.


kp & sp


Old Man

Old man take a look at my life I'm a lot like you
I need someone to love me the whole day through
Ah, one look in my eyes and you can tell that's true

Neil Young



Personal Finance and Investing


What Would My Dad (or Jesus) Do?

Immigration and Refugees

Immigration and Refugees

Big Questions

Who is the real threat to the United States and the American people?

  • a nonviolent family trying to find a safe place in the world? or,
  • a violent member of an international drug cartel?
  • (I think we know the answer.)

The basic legal premise of asylum is that the migrant must have a valid claim to be the victim of persecution in his or her home country due to race, religion, nationality, political affiliation, or membership in a protected class.

Is there a way to balance

  • holding firm to our principles and laws governing border security, while
  • treating immigrants and refugees with humanity?

Do walls dehumanize us?

Walls SEPARATE Nations

Walls physically and emotionally block and dehumanize good people, but the far more destructive edge of this sword is that walls separate whole nations. To spend billions of dollars to try and keep out a few bad actors at the cost of separating us from an entire nation, is a terrible trade-off and a fool’s calculus. We put up walls in fear, hate, and war. We take down walls in confidence, love, and peace. What kind of society do we want to live in?


Is separating immigrant and/or refugee children crossing our border from their families in effect weaponizing children for a political policy objective?

  • We Can Do Better: When the early pilgrims and pioneers came across the Atlantic to seek religious, political, and economic freedom in the United States, they came over as intact families and were not separated from each other when they arrived. As immigration increased throughout the decades from many corners of the world, there were occasional times when a father (or mother) came over first to find a job, but the children stayed with their mothers and grandparents and when they came later they were not surprised upon arrival that they would be separated from their parents. As we moved west to explore and settle this great United States, we did so as intact families. Separating kids from parents at such a critical moment in their lives is simply an abomination and a gross transgression of American values. No amount of political spin or religious pontificating can change that fact. (sp)

Do immigrants and refugees have to arrive self-sufficient, or is it enough (as it always has been) to come with $1 in their pocket and a sincere desire to work, take care of their family, and pursue the American Dream?

  • It’s Not About You: There will always be native peoples that came before us, and there will always be new immigrants and refugees that will come after us. The belief that we were here first and no one should come after us is selfish, misinformed, and a lie that discriminates and harms generation after generation. (sp)

The refugee survival experience.

Are sanctuary cities overall good for America? Or, do they erode the rule of law?

Instead of squalid shanty towns, can we plan our refugee settlements to transform into livable towns?

As the seas rise, crops wither, and wars and violence erupt, we have become a survival-seeking world on the move. We need to help each other out, not fight each other.

After World War I, did we ever think we would use barbed wire again to trap humans?

How worried should we be about alleged criminals crossing the U.S.-Mexico border?

Get a Grip!!

If you’re worried about criminals crossing the border between Mexico and the United States, thousands of miles away, don’t bother, because you should be more worried about:

getting struck by lightning
getting broadsided in your car
being gunned down by a well-armed american angry person
getting a heart attack, cancer, stroke, dementia, Parkinson’s
getting whacked by a tornado, hurricane, wildfire, or
divorce, depression, alcoholism, suicide, so

Get a grip, man!!

Immigrants and refugees are the least of your problems.


Big Picture

Big Picture / Human Society / Social Organization/Change / Immigration & Refugees


Eventually, We Will All Be Melting Pots of Each Other