Tuesday, February 23, 2010

America The Beautiful

I was speaking to a good friend the other day . . . about America and the imperfect country that it is. And he told me:

"You know, as a black man, I'll admit that this place has historically treated us like the bastard red-headed stepchild. But you also know what? For all its faults and prejudices even to this day, I'd still wouldn't want to live anywhere else."

(This next part I'm paraphrasing)

"When I walk out the door, I don't think of myself as a black man going to work. I don't read 'black' newspapers. I don't eat 'black' food. I don't talk about myself as a 'person of color,' or as a construction worker who 'happens to be black.' I'm an American, like millions of others who are just American. And I'm damn proud to be one. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. This is the best country in the world. Not because of our government, or our military, or our black president . . . but because of the ideal that America stands for. Other countries preach it, or pretend to, but America DOES it. We are truly the land of the free."

You said it, man! Or, generally so.

We went on to discuss other things--like kids these days, the police and their often controversial tactics, and even the evil that is health insurance companies--but I kept remembering this one snippet. It's pretty awesome when you really sit down and think about it.

Here's a man who's been shat on by the system, had to deal with enormous bigotry in a work field dominated by Irish and Italian Americans, and has no love at all for higher forms of authority. But yet he strongly believes in this country he calls home, pays his taxes proudly, and would fight to defend her honor.

And I have to stop and admire that. Because, honestly, as much as I can sit here and bitch and moan about all that is wrong with this country, there is no denying that what it stands for is something that is of purest beauty. Something that cannot be sullied or twisted or kicked in the mud. Call it liberty, or democracy, or representation by the people for the people . . . whatever.

All I know is that I'm proud to be here.

It's nice to talk about other countries and the thought of moving there. But, honestly, there really is no place like home. America is home, warts and all. Take it or leave it. Some people tend to fall into the "grass is greener" mentality; this idea that any other place would be so much better than living HERE.

My friend would say: Oh yeah, well why don't you leave then?

I try to be a little more judicious. To these people, I say: travel a bit more. Not all places you think would be nice to move to are as open to you staying there permanently as you might think. I mean, my wife and I would *love* to live in France. But I'm under no delusions that all would be rosy and that we would be welcomed with open arms there.

But, yeah, America works for me. It doesn't have any more monopoly on corruption, bigotry, arrogance, violence, and deception than any other major country where the people are not outnumbered by sheep. So there!

And, before I forget (for my Olympics-minded readers):



  1. Good post. I especially like your choice of picture!

  2. I knew you would! :)

    Even though it's several decades old, and taken from the summer Olympics rather than the winter, I thought it appropriate not only for the tone of this post but also in support of our athletes currently in Vancouver.

  3. i haven't been to america but if u wanna see what racism is, then u must come to malaysia...

  4. I can imagine. I've heard things about how bad it can get there. I had Chinese friends in college who were from Malaysia, and who were more socially conscious than most.


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