A few criticisms, albeit correct, that I receive on a regular basis are; “You’re always slamming America”, “What’s your problem with this country”, and then usually “If you don’t like it then why don’t you leave?”
Slamming might be a strong word for most of anti-Americanism I hear and proliferate. Okay, some is unnecessary, I’ll admit, but a lot is simply bringing important points to the table, some agreeable, some that need clarifying or dismissing. I guess it always seems anti-American because, well, I live here! I did this when I lived in England as issues pertinent to me, my situation and what I perceived arose. I’m sure it happens in other countries. Any citizen worth his or her salt should be vigilant to problems in the places they live.
We expect a lot from ourselves in this country, as our forebears created such a powerful legacy to live up to, extolling the virtues of freedom and honor, while actually going out and doing something about it (WWII comes to mind). Our parents and seniors are continually reminding us how ‘things have changed’ and they rarely mean it in the positive sense. We’re told continually that we’re slipping from the top of the world stage. And as one of my friends noted in regards to people in other countries and their perceptions of us, “You’re always hated for being Number 1”. Very true.
I want to make my stance clear. Having lived in another country whose institutions are comparable, if more mature, than the ones in America, I see that we have much to be thankful for (note I don’t use the word ‘proud’). Firstly, I get to have this conversation, the privilege of which I wouldn’t enjoy in many other countries. I have a good standard of living. I own my own business and could form others, with few restrictions, should I want to. Open debate and forum is allowed and sometimes encouraged. The economy, regardless of its current condition, allows me to purchase items at a reasonable price. Books, intellectual resources and free press are at my fingertips. I can indulge and follow creative pursuits such as art, music and literature and if I am talented I will probably be rewarded for it. I will live a longer than average life (hopefully). I could continue, but my point is clear, I have many freedoms, and for that I am grateful I was born here, and not in, say, Cuba, Iran or Russia where there is a lot of work to be done to provide citizens with an equal amount of liberties.
I criticize because we should remain vigilant, and I think that in some small way, I will be making a difference by highlighting issues people may not have been aware of, or stimulating debate and curiosity into topics previously unexplored. We should all be asking questions, on a regular basis, not taking what we’re told or what we read at face value, and then, little by little, demanding and implementing change, refinements and improvements in our society. It’s why I dislike the generalized term ‘free’ and prefer to use the term ‘freedoms’. What is free? Who deserves it? What social responsibilities and sacrifices are entailed with this ‘freedom’, and so on. It’s a complex issue, and worthy of continual scrutiny.
To me, it’s ignorance which is the usual villain in this story. The less we know, the more susceptible we are to false and misleading opinions. Any regular reader of this blog knows the other usual suspects that I target; religion, bad government, abuse of authority, greed and it’s consequences, amongst others. It’s important to keep going at these issues until we’re satisfied. I just wanted people to know that I don’t go round with a permanent scowl on my face, continually being grumpy and complaining about this and that. I am happy here in this country…
…just sometimes I get really, really pissed off at it.