The present national fantasy political football league contains a frustrating paradox: one team wants to make America great again, and the other thinks it’s already great. We’re not sure about either. We suspect there might be a third way. Maybe America could be great when it is good. Maybe one of the steps could be paying attention to the wisdom of people who suggest that authentic “greatness” doesn’t talk about itself. Maybe another would be to listen to folk nearby who would invite the recognition that Mexico, El Salvador, and Canada, among many others might feel more respected if the nation that likes to call itself the most powerful in the world affirmed that it isn’t the only one in “America”.

But our main task here is to ask, what is actually great about this nation, so easily criticized yet so aspired to by so many? Or what could be great, if you could influence it to retrieve the best of the principles to which it says it aspires? In keeping with our consideration of the re-enchantment of everyday life, we asked a diverse group of writers to imagine goodness rather than critique; to write about something in the realm of their personal experience that resonates with the idea that the US is neither purely sacred nor the Great Satan. It’s a nation of human beings, which sometimes claims authority it may not have earned, sometimes experiences the burden of unreachable expectations, and sometimes embodies a beauty unique and breathtaking. It’s broken, but still makeable.

Subscribers can click here to read our reflections on the possibility of healing, making something new, and practicing something better, in Issue #1 of The Porch. And if you’re not already a subscriber, click here to learn how you too can join the conversation.