“You know, the USA isn’t really that great.”
It’s a simple quip, but one that I’ve heard often in the liberal stronghold that is my hometown of Portland, Oregon. Recently, I was talking with a South American immigrant and they were telling me how great America was compared to their home country. The majority of Americans take our civil liberties for granted and don't appreciate everything we get from the red, white, and blue.
Regardless of your political leanings, we all should celebrate America and the endeavor for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Sure, America's past isn't perfect (from the genocide of Native Americans, slavery, imperialism, Japanese internment, and meddling in foreign elections throughout the twentieth-century just to name a few darker sides of American history) and this has caused many Americans to view America's history as deplorable. Maybe I'm just an optimist but I believe we are still a nation upon a hill.
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Dark moments in American history
Top left clock-wise: Japanese internment camps during World War II, Native American genocide, the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, slavery
First of all, the United States has been a trailblazer in rights. From the Bill of Rights to Civil Rights and LGBTQA+ rights, Americans are blessed today to have a series of rights that many other foreign citizens could only dream of. In America, we can say essentially whatever we want because of our First Amendment rights. This enables us to call America terrible, burn the American flag, and say that we hate our President without facing any consequence.
We can make fun of our politicians on TV or on Twitter in meme wars without fearing for our
In addition to freedom of speech, the First Amendment also enables freedom of religion. That is why today in America we are able to see posters like this:
Countries such as Burma, Iran, China, Eritrea, and others still have harsh restrictions on religious liberty. In addition to religious diversity, America is a nation of immigrants. This enables Americans to move beyond the tribal and ethnic conflicts many other nations like Nigeria face (although we still do have racial tensions).
In addition to citizens' rights, America has spread democracy throughout the world. Many of our strongest allies today, such as Japan and Germany, were at times our worst enemies. The United States has spread or upheld democracy throughout the world. Not to mention America, along with Great Britain and the former Soviet Union, also stopped the Nazis and the Japanese Empire from winning World War II.
America is the land of opportunity. In many nations, oligarchs control wealth and inherit success, but in America, rags-to-riches stories are not uncommon with people such as Andrew Carnegie, John Rockefeller, and Oprah Winfrey overcoming their poverty and making meaningful contributions to society.
Rags-to-riches: American Dream
The poorest Americans still are some of the wealthiest people on Earth.
Americans have also made huge contributions to the world's technology from telephones and cars to iPhones and FaceBook. Innovation was enabled by our nation's foundation. American innovation has increased the world's standard of living and will continue to do so.
Now, I'm not going to lie... America is far from perfect, but I think what gets me gushing with patriotism and passion for the red, white, and blue is what we still have left to achieve and reach the ultimate American dream; the American ideal. I'm talking about an America where we can move beyond race, beyond political agendas. I'm talking about an America where we do what is best for the whole rather than the few. I'm talking about an America with an improved infrastructure, and educational and justice systems. An improved way of upward mobility. An America that is less judgmental and more accepting. An America for everyone.
That is the America I envision.
So yes, America is great.