You Ain’t What’s Wrong with America (I Hope)

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This is the 56th in a collection of newspaper ads written by Harry Gray, then CEO of United Technologies, that appeared in the Wall Street Journal from the late 1970s through the early 1980s. Here is the text from that ad.


This country is generous, giving, compassionate, and sacrificing.
Many millions contribute to United Way, drive ambulances, fight fires, save lives, help the handicapped, contribute to medical research, serve in the armed forces, encourage youth, dance with the elderly, and comfort the sick.
If you’re one of the above, you ain’t what’s wrong with America.
It’s the cheats, plunderers, rapists, arsonists, muggers, drug dealers, pornographers, etc., who keep us from attaining a more perfect Union.


Pretty clear lines of demarcation in the examples used above.

If only life were that clear cut.

I wonder where Mr. Gray would put business executives like himself who may sometimes be forced to make a decision between sending jobs overseas and corporate profits or between the environment and corporate profits.

I also wonder where he would put politicians who may have to choose between pushing for a law they believe is right versus a different version that isn’t so closely aligned with their beliefs but has a better chance of becoming a law.

Or what about the scientists who developed nuclear weapons?

Or gun manufacturers?

Or illegal immigrants who are trying to make a better life for themselves in America, and weren’t as lucky as we were in the Ovarian Lottery?

Or what about the people who make generous donations, but look for shortcuts in the way they run their businesses?

Are these people what’s right about America, or should they be classified with the arsonists and drug dealers?

I don’t have an answer, except to say that not everyone can be classified into neat little buckets.

What I can say is that I think character matters. And if we can build a nation based on character, that will go a long way towards creating a more perfect Union.

*image from the Character Counts web site

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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