Americanism

Joseph Sharp (1861-1958), Tim's great grandfather, in the 1950s. Joe immigrated from Scotland in 1884 with his pregnant wife and her parents and siblings.

Joseph Sharp (1861-1958), Tim’s great grandfather, in the 1950s. Joe immigrated from Scotland in 1884 with his pregnant wife and her parents and siblings.

By Joseph Sharp
Public Forum, Pittsburg Sun
February 20, 1948

To the Editor:

With your permission I wish to present a few thoughts, suggestions and ideas or view points as I see them now. At the request of, and being sponsored by the Junior Chamber of Commerce, our local ministers, professors and editors, from the pulpit, platform and press, are trying, and trying hard, to make us more and more conscious of our responsibilities, as well as our privileges, as American citizens.

In this work they are strongly sustained by the American Legion, and American Legion auxiliary, civic bodies, which by precept and example, are setting a sky high goal to reach for. Primarily organized to take care of the interest of the returned soldiers, their activities have expanded and their help in behalf of law and order, and respect for the flag have been beyond value.

The American Legion and auxiliary, however, can not do anything for the brave men who in two wars gave up their lives in defense of home and country, beyond paying homage to their memory. They died and are at rest in the jungle, sands and seas all over the world. But the Legion has done, and is doing, everything in its power to help clear the clouded minds, and mend the shattered bodies of those who, with the will to do, the soul to dare, were shocked into a living death in the carnage of battlefields. For twenty years, by word and deed, the Legion and auxiliary helped the widows and children to attain some semblance of comfort, soothed their heartaches by a friendly hand clasp, and a whispered word of kindness.

I, being born in bonnie Scotland, a Scotsman by chance, and an American by choice, propose to sketch my ideas, from a naturalized citizen’s viewpoint.

As a barefooted boy roaming over the heather-clad hills, I had a vision of going to America. As a young man, that fancy merged into reality. I found myself on board the Celtic headed into a stormy Atlantic ocean. I gazed at the receding coast line of old Ireland, till sky and ocean blended, then with high hopes, faced around towards “the land of the free, and the home of the brave.”

Some captious critics assert, that revering the memories of your native land implies disloyalty to the land of your adoption. I do not share that view. On the contrary, I hold that those who do not have a soft spot in their hearts for those memories lack some of the qualities necessary to be loyal to any country.

The United States of America, being a government of the people, by the people, for the people, my conception of good Americanism implies that when the people’s chosen representative, by majority vote decide that any given course of action is to the best interest of the country at large, the minority should cooperate by giving them a fair chance to prove it. It is advisable, now if ever, to present an unbroken and unbreakable front to any subversive tactics of our foes within and foes outside our shores.

Good Americanism suggests that in our everyday dealings with our fellow men the virtues of honesty, truthfulness, courtesy, sincerity and mercy be liberally sprinkled therein.

We should be truthful, for truth is mighty and will prevail. — “Truth crushed to earth will rise again.”

We should be sincere — “For what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”

We should be courteous —Nobody loses, everyone gains, under its subtle charms.

We should be merciful — “The quality of mercy is not strained, it falleth as a gentle dew from Heaven, and is twice blessed. It blesseth him who gives, and him who receives.”

We should be honest, and at that, not as a matter of policy, but as a matter of principle. In short, the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” is a safe guiding star to steer by.

Good Americanism insistently calls for you to be loyal to your family, your friends, your country, and your God, all vitally essential elements in observing it.

When I see the Red, White and Blue of our flag, fluttering in the breeze, and think of what it represents — freedom of speech, equal rights to all, justice to all, the right to worship God according to the dictates of your own conscience — I thank Heaven I was privileged to come under its protection. Today this is the best country on earth to live in. I have seen the primeval grandeurs of the Rocky mountains, the picturesque hills and placid streams of the Ozarks, the cattle-covered blue-stem-carpeted Flint Hills, and the wide expanses of yellow wheat in this, our state. When I see these things, I am proud of my citizenship. It is a country well worth living for, fighting for, even dying for if need be.

It is incumbent on us, native and foreign born alike, to engrave on our hearts and minds, and emulate the patriotic regard for home and country envisioned by Sir Walter Scott:

“Breathes there a man with soul so dead
Who never to himself hath said
This is my own, my native land.
Whose heart has ne’er within him burned
As home his footsteps he hath turned,
From wandering on a foreign strand.”

Heretofore, man prided himself as being but little lower than the angels. Now he seems to have reverted to the law of the jungle. The survival of the fittest, wherein the rule is for those to take who have the power, for those to keep who can. The spoils of victory going to the possessor of the strongest teeth and the longest claws, might, not right, deciding the issues.Self preservation being the first law of nature, self interest the mainspring of our actions, it is our right, nay, it is our duty, as a people who observe our laws, both in letter and spirit, to see to it, that those vagaries of the brain sponsored by Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin, self-styled supermen and self appointed saviors of the world, gets no foothold on our shores. Fate has swept two of them into oblivion. The other will follow. We do not need their fallacisms. In Americanism we have a better ism of our own, with much higher ideals.

If we have our share of troubles, we can banish them. If not, we can bear them. It is better to bear the ills we have than to fly to others we know not of; for life at best is largely a succession of smiles and tears, sunshine and shadows, hopes and fears. Perhaps the tragic horrors of war spotlighted before our eyes will make us more deeply appreciate the blessings of peace.

It is beyond understanding why man, endowed with a brain, capable of measuring and weighing the planets, and tracing their orbits in the immensities of space, and calculate in light years the distance to the stars, should have so far failed to solve a seemingly simple problem in political economy, for the ideal state of society, as portrayed by John Stuart Mills, in which the greatest number of people can live in the greatest possible comfort, by the least labor necessary to sustain it, should be well within the range of human endeavor.

That ideal, if and when attained, tends to develop a sound mind in a sound body, a body with mental, moral and physical stamina to withstand the hardships, trials and ills of life. A mind attuned to see God’s handiwork in the manifold beauties of nature, and commune with nature, and with nature’s God.

JOSEPH SHARP,
119 South Broadway, Pittsburg, Kan.

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