We have embraced all of these here in America — maybe not all at the same time, and not all at the same volume, or as consistently. Nevertheless, it’s a good practice to have a set of guiding principles even bitter rivals can agree on. This set of ideals is one of the most universal, cross-cultural, cross-temporal sets of ethical standards and moral principles. Folks find it hard to argue with these when directly and persistently pressed — though some still do!
The American Dream has been a contested concept since the dawning of the nation. But arguably, the entire founding purpose of America was to break with the traditions of the past and forge a new destiny in a new world. The past was bound up with hierarchy, monarchy, oligarchy, and rule from the top — but the Founders planted a flag in the ground around the fundamental equality of all human beings, both under God and under the law, in the Declaration of Independence.
We hold these truths to be self-evident: that the following list of American values be worthy of our collective pursuit. We ought to be able to hold each other accountable to a set of standards of behavior — if we are as civilized as we say we are. Are we the pinnacle of humanity, practically perfect in every way? Or are we yesterday’s fish?
- Courage — be bold and try new things. Take risks; be brave. Be prepared to take knocks.
- Justice — fairness
- Humanity — of, by, and for The People (The Stoics: Cosmopolitanism)
- Moderation — eschewing extremism
- Wisdom — Careful deliberation and deep thinking; critical advice and strategic vision.
- Transcendance — the idea that we should appreciate our humble place in the vast universe