I cannot say that I am happy with the United States of America as it stands. But I can say that I am proud of what it did in the past, and proud and thankful for all those who fought and fight for it.
I do believe we have lost our way. Commercialism has taken over Democracy, companies and industries often writing our laws in their favor, with little regard for what happens to the citizens. Genetically Modified Foods now popping up unexpectedly, while laws have been written that protect the manufacturers from prosecution. Ninety percent of U.S. citizens want universal background checks on gun purchases, while the NRA, gun manufacturers’ lobby group, blocks all reasonable discussion. And the list goes on.
In addition to commercialism, ideology has taken over. Pro Life groups creep into gerrymandered republican districts, taking over state governments, and sneak in anti-abortion laws in the name of life, with little regard for the health of women. Law mills churn out legislation to abolish unions and worker rights, restrict voting rights, and foist religious considerations into laws. They all seem to forget that the original goal was to create a free country where you could, in the privacy of your home or the church of your choice, practice whatever religious beliefs you wanted to. As soon as you impose your beliefs into the government, while you may feel free, someone else does not. Freedom isn’t about making a government that fits your beliefs. It is about a government that allows you to practice your beliefs on your own time, in your own space. It is the old adage, “Live and let live,” not “My way or the high way,” as often seems the case these days.
The U.S. ranks low in education, high in infant mortality rates, low in infrastructure, and high in military build up, things that I find it difficult to be proud of. We seem to have difficulty in building that free and equal society that we once dreamed off. We went to the Moon, and now we can’t find a way to even agree about climate change. We once talked about free speech, freedom of the press, and individual freedom and privacy. Now we are all tracked by the NSA and every major company on the Internet.
On this Independence Day, I am not proud of what my country has become. But I am proud of what it did. It gave the world its first taste of freedom. That taste spread to embrace most of Europe, and even today continues to spread into the Middle East, as Egypt is clearly demonstrating. We may be squashing it now, but we built it first, and that is something to be proud of.