The Great Things about the United States

4 Jul

Ok, so today I want to make a little list, in honor of July 4th.  To begin, I want to emphasize that I’m not making a list that is how the U.S. is better than other countries, any country has its strengths and weaknesses and America is no different.  Nor am I saying that the United States is without its problems and issues.  However, I do want to show my gratitude for this country that I’ve lived in most of my life, so think of this as my little fireworks show for Independence Day.

1.  The United States has some lovely (and variable) country.  From the majesty of Niagara Falls, to the mind-boggling hugeness of the Grand Canyon, from the Rockies to the Great Lakes, the Smoky Mountains, Hawaii’s island paradise, Alaska’s frozen wonders, Southern beaches, the glorious west coast–every state has something marvelous to look at, some well known, some obscure.   This country is a road-trippers dream.

2.  The people here are just as varied–the United States has people from nearly everywhere in it, and the cultural make-up changes wildly from area to area.  This includes everything from religion, to ancestry, to local flavor.   It’s amazing that (in most ways) we work together so well.

3.  The United States’ history moves in a general direction from limited freedoms for some people to greater freedoms for greater amounts of people.  This trajectory has been hard-fought and has been seriously challenged in the past, but it’s still there.

4.  Americans love being entertained.  For things to pass the time, there is an endless array of different things to do.  Also American audiences are VERY appreciative when entertainment is good.  Our applause is heartfelt and enthusiastic.

5.  If there’s one common thread to much of American culture it is the infinite capacity of dreaming.  I’m not just talking about the American Dream, but the very idea that the world is full of opportunity for anybody with a little know-how, grit, and hard work–that’s a charming worldview.   Honestly, this capacity has brought more healing and hope in times of trouble than anything else.

6.  The freedom of expression is an obsession for Americans.  I can’t think of a time where people’s right to say what they think hasn’t been seriously discussed.  It comes up in nearly every political issue, from both sides of the aisle.  Not every country has that freedom.

7.  When someone captures the American public’s heart, America is a very giving country.  I’m thinking of every internet story where someone was mistreated and strangers step in to try to make things right.  Every day I hear inspiring stories of common citizens trying to do the right thing.  It’s wonderful.

8.  You like big bustling cities?  We’ve got them.  You like a home in the middle of nowhere?  We’ve got that too.  Are you fast-paced or a slow-poke?  Take your pick, we’ve got room for you both.

9.  American food–yes it’s often bad for you, but who can deny the simple happiness that a hamburger, or a slice of pizza, or Coca-Cola, and yes, Apple Pie.  Americans love comfort so much that all their distinctive foods are comfort food.  And don’t forget the regional dishes–Southern Cooking, New England fare, New Orleans’ spicy stewpot, California Cuisine–and also all the different peoples of the world that came to this country and made an American version of their foods–go to any Italian restaurant or Tex-Mex diner or Chinese take-out and you know what I mean.

10.  And finally, I want to praise the regular ordinary people of this country.  The ones who are not famous or important, at least not in the ways that get on TV.   I want to tell the rest of the world that these are the people worth getting to know.  Yes, there’s a few bad apples, but by and large, a vast majority of Americans are good people who work hard, who have simple virtues like friendliness, openness, neighborliness, sharing, curiosity, and a whole lot of fun.

God bless this country.  Let us continue to improve and prosper.

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