I think if Americans were to hold up a mirror to see the image the rest of the world sees, we would agree that we tend to complain a lot. We are especially good at complaining about things that are not very important. In an earlier post called “The United States of Entertainment” back on January 20, 2013, I mentioned we are one of the least informed, but most entertained countries in the world. I won’t even try to list the number of inane things we argue about, but I do want to highlight some of the things we should celebrate. To be honest, we still have it pretty damn good here.
While our system of government is not perfect, it is one of the best constructed governments in the world. It has stood the test of time of some of the most inane and disingenuous politicians. It has provided structure and invited improvements made over time, such as freeing the slaves, providing voting rights to women and assuring equal civil rights for all to name an important few. Yet, it still exists and we still flourish.
A key facet of our system of government is the peaceful transition of power. This facet cannot be overstated as to permit the baton to be passed to another leader without a coup or military intervention is amazing. I recognize other countries do this, but there are many who do not, so it is something to celebrate. Some countries even pass the baton to a relative. I still have a trouble with this. Being related does not make you better or worse, it just means you are related. What gives Raul Castro the right to succeed his brother, e.g.?
Another is the ability to peacefully assemble and air grievances. I find it ironic, that some of our more strident citizens can come together even with malicious mission statements, to complain about a government that gives them the freedom to do this. The only price the government asks is the peaceful assembly and doing no harm to others. Our country gives people the freedom to be the biggest boneheads in the world. That is truly something to celebrate in Civics and Economics class.
Being able to assemble to air grievances (or for any matter) is key, as we are huge melting pot of diversity. I love this about our country. We can go to many corners of our country and see all kinds of Americans of different races, ethnic origins, country origins and sexual persuasions. It shows up in a fusion of our food, music and arts. And, it shows up in our innovations. I read once that innovation shows up most in the intersections of different circles of people. I have witnessed this first had and believe this is a greatness of America. It is the reason why Steve Jobs wanted his Apple employees to come in to work to create those intersections.
Finally, we live in a country, where it is OK for me to write an email or letter and call my representatives when I disagree with them or to encourage them to vote a certain way. I can do this without repercussion. As long as I am civil and avoid name calling, the message will be read by someone. I have received tailored emails and standard emails, but at least they responded. Yet, I am most appreciative of someone who takes the time to write something, even when they disagree with my position.
If you have read my others post, I am aware we are not perfect and have real issues that we need to deal with (and not who needs to be voted off Survivor or win American Idol). With that said, our country has turned the corner on the economy and is on the road to recovery. The stock market has roared back to better than it was before the crisis even hitting new all-time highs. Jobs are coming back and the numbers have been on a steady climb for almost three years. Housing prices have largely rebounded and homes sales are occurring at a faster pace. There are pockets of slowness, but the signals look good.
Outside of the tempest in the Middle East, which remains so very difficult to figure out for anyone, our standing in the globe has measurably improved per the surveys I have seen (please refer to an earlier post “Outside Looking In – the World View of our Election dated September 1, 2012). When the President came into office, we had a much lower reputation per the survey data. Part of this is due to the significant efforts of a well-known female Secretary of State who was a walking commercial for letting women have the opportunity to succeed. The other part is electing a President who does not look like any of his predecessors. For our country to elect its first African-American President, speaks and spoke volumes to the rest of the world. A more outward policy also helped.
So, let’s work together to figure out our problems. But, let’s relish in the good things that make us Americans. Let’s celebrate the positive news that things are improving. We still can and will complain, but let’s make it more informed complaining rather than about contrived or unimportant issues. Fracking and poverty are issues. What Honey Boo-Boo said is not.