We hear some version of that from politicians and pundits all of the time. Good ol’ red-blooded American boys and girls sing out their praises of the homeland. It’s the greatest country on the planet. Those of us born here obviously deserve all of the richness of this wonderful, God-blessed land.
Can I get an amen?
When I hear anyone – from President Obama on down to a near-illiterate dutifully sprinkling his social media account with pro-American propaganda – say something like, “The United States must lead the world in education,” I wonder why.
Why must we have the world’s best schools or medical services or transportation system? (Funny, but I do not immediately remember any of them calling for us to lead the world in feeding the hungry, clothing the naked or taking in the homeless.)
Let’s look at this another way.
If, indeed, we’re able to become No. 1 in these various categories, does it matter to you if the achievement is made only by bringing down those who currently are ahead of us? That is, let’s say our student test scores stay the same but become the best in the world because other countries’ scores fell. We’re No. 1, but we’re no better.
But here’s my greatest question.
Why must this be a competition? Why can’t we just wish – these are usually empty words, wishes, after all – that all of the world’s people have a good education, clean water, nourishing food, adequate medical care, justice and peace? Is it because, if they have what we have then we’re less? I don’t think so, unless your greatest need is a desire to be better than others.
We hear platitudes about God loving all humans, even about everyone being created equal, but we Americans really do seem to believe, even if we won’t say it out loud, that God must love us more and that’s why we have such riches.
What would change in our actions if we really believed everyone was equal in the eyes of God and deserving of at least fair, if not equal, opportunities? What if we truly cared about people worldwide and not just Americans? Come on, you’ve heard it … “Why must we spend money to help prevent starvation overseas when we have poor people here at home?”
They are not exclusive operations, people.
Wait. Before you say it, I’m not talking one-world government or New World Order. This cannot begin with governments, it must begin with people.
It’s at this point some are making fun of me by breaking out in “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” or “Kumbaya.” Yeah, caught you, didn’t I? Why do that unless it’s because you really do believe we’re better than other people?
Since I’ve ventured down this road, let’s go all of the way.
Americans like to boast they live in the best country in the world. We’re not saying best in one or two categories but the best in the whole, dang world. ’Merica! USA! USA!
News flash. A great many people believe the same thing about their countries and they do not live in the United States. They live in Asia, Europe, Africa, South America and Australia. They each love their country and think it’s pretty darn grand, even though you may look down your nose at it.
And this may be the most difficult for you to understand, but they have no desire to leave for the USA.
Wait, this might be even more difficult to grasp. There are lifelong, native-born Americans who enjoy living in other countries, to the point they make a choice to move there. They do not seek to change their citizenship, they’re still Americans, but they live overseas full time. Just Google something like “retiring overseas” and the numbers might surprise you.
This may be the best place to insert that, yes, I am proud of my country. I am happy to be an American and proud to be a Texan. And I want us to be the best we can be, but I happen to believe we’ll be better when others around the world are also better.
So, what should we do? When we analyze where we are and what we should do next, let’s consider what we can do to improve life for people everywhere.
That’s going to hurt a little, because once we look beyond our desires for a larger TV screen we see billions of people in dire, actual need. How can we spare enough to help them?
First of all, it requires us to honestly appraise what we need versus what we want. If we are open-minded, I think most of us will discover we need far, far less than what we have. Learn to live with less, share the excess with others and you might find you enjoy life more.
After all, many people in other countries are happily doing that right now.