America’s Streets Are Not Paved With Gold

imagesThis poem came to me during July 4 fireworks surrounded by thousands of fellow citizens of every hue and stripe gathered in joyful celebration of America – right after I heard a radio program about the long desperate struggle of a Somali refugee in Kenya to get a U.S. visa.*



They said America’s streets are paved with gold.
It wasn’t true; it was a lie.
And even if they had been paved with gold,
What good would that do anyone?Unknown
Walking on golden streets
Won’t make you rich.
It won’t rub off on you.
You couldn’t pick it up and spend it.
Couldn’t eat it.


Yet still they come,
Knowing that America’s streets
Are paved instead with good will;
Are paved with live and let live;
With energy, imagination, grit, and spunk.


America’s streets are paved
With positive attitudes;
By people who say
The difficult we do at once;
The impossible takes a little longer.


America’s streets are pavedUnknown-1
By people who work at paving them
To make their own lives better
Through making life better
For other people,
Giving others roads to travel.


America’s streets are paved with mistakes
That we strive always to make right;
Streets where we take one step back,
And then go two steps forward.


America’s streets are paved
With Truth, Reason, Freedom, and Justice;
Streets that are full of potholes,
In this imperfect worldimages-1
Of imperfect souls.
Yet these paths will take us far,
Paving the way for all the world,
Paving our way to the stars.

* His name is Abdi Iftin, and if you’d like to contribute toward his college education, here is a Paypal link.
And here’s a picture he sent me, of him in Maine:




4 Responses to “America’s Streets Are Not Paved With Gold”

  1. Lee Says:

    Go America! We have done well but nonetheless never rest on our laurels. Yay us!

    Though, to be fair, several other countries are comparable in many respects — let’s hear it for freedom everywhere it it is evident! Yay!

  2. rationaloptimist Says:

    “several other countries are comparable in many respects” but none is comparable in all respects.

  3. Lee Says:

    America has been my home all my life and I would not trade it for another home. I mean absolutely no disrespect for my home when I point out that many other people also have good reasons to take pride in their home countries. Their countries are not identical to ours; by my standards they fall short in some respects but are better in other respects. Would a careful weighing of everything show that America is best? For me the answer is “yes,” but I acknowledge that there are perfectly rational human beings who balance their priorities just a little differently from me, for whom the answer is “no.”

    Resolving whether America is absolutely first by some universal standard or “merely” an exemplary member of the leading pack of countries is not an issue that is important to me. I feel the home-country pride of people in countries with freedom, justice, compassion, etc., even though there are differences of preference in how best to balance those goals.

  4. All My Guts and Soul Says:

    nice 🙂

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