All They Have Are “Things”

A friend of mine recently attended a conference and told me of a man who lives in Africa and had spoken at the event.  He quoted him as saying, “I feel sorry for America. All they have are things”. When that statement was made, I looked around the group I was with and saw many of the heads nodding in agreement. I knew that statement had to be challenged.

America does have lots of “things”.  Some of those “things” are the stone gardens of places like Arlington and Saratoga, where the graves of brave men and women are marked.  They gave all they had to liberate peoples and nations around the world. America is a noble nation who has shown herself time and time again willing to bring freedom and relief to nearly every continent on the globe.

Yes, America has “things”. We have bravery, courage and a generous heart. America has “things” like our young men and women that their mothers gave to Europe and Asia in two World Wars to free them of tyranny and oppression. American has “things” like memories of the blood that stains foreign lands from the beaches of Normandy to clear around the world in the South Pacific.  A visit to the fields of Gettysburg, where the soldiers on both side were Americans, will further illustrate how so many brave men gave their lives to end the scourge of slavery on our own soil.

American has “things” like the finest education system the world has ever known.  “Things” like a healthcare system that is the envy of the civilized world.

America has “things” that include a Constitution and Bill of Rights, giving us the best system of government in human history.  America has “things” like freedom of speech, religion and the press.

America has “things” like innovation and opportunity.  America has given the world “things” like transistors and the artificial heart.  “Things” like the integrated circuit and global navigation systems.  America has exported its “things” and made the world a better place.

I find the statement that this person “feels sorry” for us particularly condescending and ignorant as the northern part of continent that he lives on was liberated when our Army, along with our Allies, drove Germany’s Rommel from his land. Had it not been for America and its “things”, he may have delivered that line in German, rather than English.

America has “things” like foreign aid of which nearly $12 Billion Dollars goes to Africa every year.  Why don’t you send those “things” back to us?  Maybe then you wouldn’t feel so sorry for us.

The “things” that America has were not easily obtained.  America is a land of opportunity, although some today see it as a nation of entitlements.  The “things” that most Americans posses had to be earned.  Hard work and sweat are the hallmarks of American success.  Countless people continue to come from all over the world to make their way in this great Nation.

America has “things” like the Grand Lady that stands in New York Harbor proclaiming “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

So, you know what my answer is to that person?  Do not waste your pity on us.  Mourn for those around the world who have yet to taste “things” like freedom and opportunity.  Maybe someday America and its “things” will show up on your doorstep and bring you life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Yes, America has “things” and we should never feel guilty that God has seen to bless this great Nation.

America owes no one an apology nor should her hard-working citizens yield to the envious or the haters.


About the Author View all posts

Rick Gile

Rick Gile

Life is made up of stories. You may not realize it, but we relay our experiences to one another all the time. They can give our loved ones a sense of the past, our friends a glimpse of how we have reacted to life's changes. Or, tell a new acquaintance something about ourselves. Stories are really about the journey of life.

What you encounter as life passes are views of events that make up your past, while shaping your future. What you read here are merely a few of the stories that have shaped my life, so far.

Rick and his wife Olga live in upstate New York, close to their grandchildren. They work part-time with their sons after running a business for 37 years in the Albany area.

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