Sunday, July 3, 2011

My Country’s Better than Your Country! Really?

It is 4th of July weekend and I have been hearing once again the alarming cries of how great our country is, how free we are, and how our country is the best in the world.  In many ways this holiday is one I have issues with (not the only one peeps).  Yes, we live in an amazing place with astounding opportunities that are not available to others around the globe.  We get to protest our leaders, for the most part, without fear of recrimination or death.  We are able to read a free press – even though it is slanted in so many ways it sometimes does not seem worth it.  We are able to live our lives, enjoy our liberty and pursue happiness.  That’s all wonderful stuff we get from the blessings of being an American.

On the other hand, our “free country” is based on a history of 400 years of slavery and native oppression that both have left lasting repercussions that we are not adequately dealing with.  Our educational system hardly ranks among the world’s best.  Our health care system is broken, despite changes that have helped keep young people covered longer and stops insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions (among others).  Our political system is so polarized we cannot get bills passed without wrangling for political benefits or castigating the “enemy” at every opportunity.  Our country suffers from a widening gap of those who have much and those who have little.  The lower class swells, the rich get richer, and the middle class evaporates.  Our country’s dream of living “free and equal” continues to elude many groups – because of the color of their skin, the clothes they wear, the people they love, the jobs they lost, the house they can never afford, the way they decorate their skin with art or holes, etc.  Our country continues to exhibit shocking symptoms of racism, sexism, heterosexism, ageism, size-ism, classism, etc.

So … we’ve got BIG issues.  We have problems that need BIG resolutions.  We have problems that have lasted for generations without as much progress as we need to have achieved.  And to get things done our leaders need to work together, our neighborhoods need to work together, our churches need to embrace the needs of the people for acceptance, and our families need to come together to work for change.

Yes, we are a great country, but we need to live up to that greatness.  We need to live up to that moniker before we proclaim it too loudly.  We have miles to go to be who we profess to be.  I love this country – don’t miss that point.  I am proud to be an American, but we need to be all that America stands for.

Happy 4th of July – to a great country that can be so much greater!

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