DAVENPORT — Lynn Leming, a teacher at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic School, was exploring the concept of manifest destiny with her eighth-grade classes.
John O’Sullivan, who coined the term, wrote that it was America’s manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole continent of North America. “The God of nature and nations has marked it for our own,” he wrote.
Leming asked her students whether they thought God has a plan for Americans today. Out of this discussion came the question, “What is our manifest destiny?” Among the students’ written responses was the following one by student Savannah Moeller, which Leming shared with The Catholic Messenger:
What is our manifest destiny? In February, my social studies teacher asked our class this question. Most of us looked around like deer in headlights wondering who was going to answer first. Manifest destiny is our future.
It is the way we choose our fate each and every day. Looking around our classroom, at the kids I have known since kindergarten, I imagine doctors, nurses, lawyers, volunteers, teachers, artists, writers and so many other occupations that cannot fit on this page.
When you go for a walk outside, what do you see? Do you notice the gray clouds and the rain first, or do you notice the happy kids jumping around in bright yellow rain boots?
Do you notice the way the rain is causing your hair to mess up, or do you notice the shiny coat of rain that makes the trees look beautiful?
If you have ever been to a soup kitchen, do you first notice the happy volunteers, or the way you think the world is coming to an end? In a hospital do you notice the sick people, or do you notice the friendly relatives that make the cancer patient feel better? When you learn about a bad occurrence all the way across the ocean, do you say, “Well I can’t do anything about that.” Or do you find a way to help after all?
Manifest destiny for America is not the mistakes we make, but the way we figure out how to fix them. America’s future lies in the way we connect with the rest of our world.
Instead of always wanting power and money, let’s give someone else a chance once in awhile. Why do you need a million-dollar house, when there are kids out there who are bouncing left and right between junky apartments? Our future is a blank canvas that still needs paint.
America will be lifeless until we start waking up and putting more care into our nation. We have worked so hard from nothing, as explorers, to start this country. America is not just one type of people, but many different cultures that make up one nation. Our manifest destiny is all of our dreams stuck together in one country, shared with the world.