About a month ago, I had a conversation with a friend, one who has very different opinions on several subjects opposed to mine.
Great guy. Fun. Good father. But, very liberal.
He is open about his discontent toward many attributes inherent to the United States, its policys, both foreign and domestic, and his disdain for various traits that Americans possess.
He worships Obama, loathes Bush, and wishes death on the likes of Rush Limbaugh.
During this particular exchange, we discussed the differences between other countries and cultures as opposed to our own, with a concentration on the middle east.
While he claims to deplore terrorism, he “understands” what could lead someone to follow that path.
Citing poverty, living conditions, and cultural influences, he proceeded to say that we, as Americans, could never understand what these people have to endure on a daily basis. That they, out of necessity, need to live in a more “survivalist” mode, most times struggling for the lowest things on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Juxtaposing this against the United States, he proceeded to admonish our lifestyles, trumpeting the typical notion that we are “spoiled.” Not appreciating how lucky we are to, if desired, have anything we want, living in a place where we don’t need to just “survive.”
I told him he was foolish for believing that Americans don’t appreciate our lot in life. Certainly, our privilege of having been born here can be taken for granted, but, even people here can struggle to survive, as well.
Though the overall structure for us to succeed in a positive direction is there, it still takes willpower and hard work to succeed for what we hope to obtain and achieve.
America is a young nation. It was born of individuals who did have to struggle for the basic necessities of life. But they worked, recognized the importance of education, and progressed to a point where they felt they had no other recourse but to fight for not just basic physical needs, but for freedom from tyranny of other men, and a burning desire to choose for themselves how they could reach goals which were rooted in idealism, and not just need.
They didn’t just want to survive, they wanted to live.
There are many regions, many countries and cultures, which have been around centuries longer than ours. Their progenitors had the same mental abilities to choose a path of progress, one rooted in the possibility to create a better environment so their children could be afforded better opportunities to progress as well-intentioned members of the human race, and not waste their gifts on hatred of those who were different.
This country, from its inception through the present, has been the only country to actually get it right. It has provided a template for other people, cultures, and nations, to follow, if desired. The birth of our country provided hard won proof and inspiration that existence did not have to be ruled by aristocratic iron hands, and that actions tempered with reason would produce an outcome of hope, equality, and collective success.
The mere fact that people, through centuries filled with possibilities, willfully chose to spend their energies fighting and pushing agendas consisting of warped ideology and religious hatred with nothing positive to show for it, continue to march on and blame others for their plight is incomprehensible.
Compared to the United States, and what trials and tribulations we and our ancestors have overcome, fought, and endured, gives credence to what noble intentions and acceptance of other’s differences can accomplish.
We have become the most powerful source of hope this world has ever witnessed.
We have evolved from a society which based its entire existence on just eeking out a living, to one which can actually, if desired, improve emotionally, enabling ourselves to grow into complex individuals. We are not just human beings, but people.
I don’t feel ashamed of my birthright. I don’t feel as if I should harbor some self-inflicted guilt over the fact that I was blessed enough to be born in a place where I am able to concentrate more on my individuality and emotional health than others. Just as our fore-fathers could have chosen a path of hatred or the institution of a caste system, so too can the people of these countries, which focus their energies on fomenting conflict and hate.
For all of the problems we may have here, we are still the best country on Earth.
We should be proud of that fact, not ashamed.