Charita Goshay: Immigrants get our greatness ... do we?

Charita Goshay

I recently attended a naturalization ceremony during which 16 people from 14 countries became citizens.

The blend of languages, cultures and colors was like a human quilt, yet they all had one noticeable thing in common: Once they became Americans, not a single person took the opportunity to complain about how bad things are or how crummy the president is, or to rant about the crooked ineptitude of Congress.

I saw a lot of handshaking but no hand-wringing.

The ceremony was an hour late in starting, but no one seemed to mind. The room radiated happiness, which is not always the case in a courthouse.


In fact, the applicants seemed — dare I say it? — thrilled to be here.

Maybe they don’t get it, though they all appeared to be well-educated folks. There were teachers, business owners, engineers and a newly minted graduate of Ohio State University.

So, are they just blissfully naive, or do they see something in this country that so many of us born here seem to have forgotten?

These days we nitpick and name-call and knee-jerk and demonize while lobbing charges of sedition and treason and bemoaning our lives, even as ones born in the greatest nation in history.

The American can-do optimism that attracts so many to these shores now wilts at the slightest challenge. We’re becoming less and less tolerant of others, all the while demanding information to fuel what we already believe, so we that can become even more angry, scared, self-righteous, resentful, paranoid and pessimistic.

Immigrants must think we’re crazy.

The wonder

But what does it say about America — at least the essence of us — that people still are leaving their own countries, sometimes at risk of their lives, and are willing renounce their allegiance and loyalty to those nations just to become a part of this nation?

There’s no other country for which I’d be willing to do the same.

There are places in the world where you can be killed on the mere suspicion of independent thought. So, imagine the wonder of coming to a place in which free expression is not only encouraged, but it’s also protected by the Constitution.

I often wonder if we do really understand how incredibly fortunate we are to be living under a system that’s as close to perfection as any human has ever devised.

We live in an information age, but it’s the American mindset that’s in dire need of a reboot.

Charita Goshay writes for The Repository in Canton, Ohio. Contact her at