Thursday, October 9, 2008

Feelings Regarding the USA

It has come to my attention that a few people think I am anti-USA. I decided it would be a good idea if I write out my exact feelings regarding the US, to clear up any misunderstanding amongst my readers.

First of all, I do not hate the USA. I was born there, I spent 23 years there, and my family is there. The US is full of beauty, like the Appalachians, the Great Lakes, the Everglades, the Rockies, and pretty much all of Virginia and Tennessee. There are natural wonders, like Castle Rock, Old Faithful, and Crater Lake. There are man-made wonders, like the Mackinac Bridge, Mount Rushmore, and the Statue of Liberty. There are even tacky wonders, like Carhenge, the Corn Palace, and all the fiberglass dinosaurs in Glasgow, VA.

When I went to Washington, DC for the first time, I was speechless with amazement. Virginia is a beautiful history-lover's paradise. Michigan is great for camping. Florida has fantastic beaches. Oregon has stunning scenery. California has loads of film history, which is dear to me. Hawaii has amazing volcanoes. New York has...well, we'll leave New York out of this. I could go on and on.

So yes, the USA will always have a place in my heart. There is much there that I care about and much that I appreciate. However, there is also a lot that does not deserve praise.

In America, I have seen more rudeness, selfishness, and prejudice than anywhere else I have traveled. It is in many ways like a spoiled child who has been given everything she could need or want, and then abuses her privileges and looks down on others for not being equally privileged. Nowhere in the world is there perfection. I don't expect the US or any country to be anywhere near perfect. Still, with all that the USA has been blessed with, I think it is not unreasonable to expect a bit more from its people. The whole idea of "manifest destiny" has simply got to stop. So does this prevailing idea that the rest of the world should be just like America.

Let me repeat, for anyone who missed the memo, I DO NOT HATE THE USA. I do not regret being an American (although there are times I am a bit embarrassed to be). I am grateful for all the privileges and rights I grew up with, and yes, I thank God for them. I do not think that being an American gives me any special rights in other countries, nor do I think I should allowed to do whatever I please just because I'm an American.

Okay, you may all return to your seats. The soapbox lecture is over.

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"