Today is Friday, the day that I talk about “The Issues”, as anyone that’s read this blog for a prolonged period of time knows. Today is also the 4th of July, so I thought that it’d be timely to talk about the issues this nation has, because we’ve got a lot. For instance, the first issue this nation has is a bad case of pride, which bristles at the notion that there might be someone like me who thinks this place is far from perfect, especially on America’s birthday. People act like a person disappointed with America is the one jerk at your grandma’s 85th birthday who waits until just after the singing of “Happy Birthday” to loudly announce “but really you shouldn’t have cake because of your diabetes”.
It’s okay to be disappointed with America. It’s an extremely patriotic thing to do. The 4th of July is a celebration of people so fed up with America that they were willing to write a nasty letter. Being dissatisfied with the state of America (and writing an open letter) is celebrating 4th of July to its fullest! So bring out your inner pessimist and take a good look around.
There is plenty to be disappointed in:
• Our double war against the abstract notion of “terror”, in which we used terrorist tactics. One nation we invaded because the dictator we established turned out to not be to our liking, the other because well…turns out the first war was aimed at the wrong guys. We really needed to get that other terrorist that we funded and trained years back. Not to mention that our leadership lied to us about the reasons of going into the first one. Now we can’t seem to get away from either. Even after getting out of Iraq, the problems we’ve created are still really bad and costing lives.
• Our nation’s pride in ignorance. In the Information Age, ignorance is a choice. When only 3 out of 4 Americans know that the Earth goes around the sun instead of the opposite, we’ve got a problem. Only 50% of folks know that humans came from an earlier species. Even less can explain the rather obvious idea that monkeys can still exist, even if humans came from monkeys. (If you don’t know, it’s the same way that England can still exist, even if Americans came from England.) Despite America’s education system floundering, there are many still trying to defund it further.
• Our nation’s revisionist history, especially where traditions are concerned. You can currently see it in the debate against gay people. Our military is apparently founded upon an impeccable historical that can’t be questioned, and that’s why gays can’t serve. Apparently during the Revolutionary war, George Washington was all “Hey guys, let’s fight the British. Unless you are totally homo. Then get out. We don’t need you. You’ll undermine Freedom with your gay.” Our military tradition is impeccable (see also: massacres of native populations, rules about blacks serving). You can also wonder at “Traditional Marriage” and wonder if gay marriage would be more acceptable if their marriages were arranged by folks other than themselves, the way marriages were traditionally done. Or if gay marriage would be more acceptable if one of the parties was sold for a few pieces of livestock, the way it was traditionally done.
• The obsession with making the strong stronger and the weak weaker. You see it mostly in economics, because Capitalism in this country is working the way that Capitalism is supposed to. A quick look at student loans shows what I’m talking about. A bank basically is a business that makes money because it has a room full of money. People that don’t have money pay the bank more money. So poor people are giving what they don’t have to a business that already has plenty of it. This system is institutionalized (71% of college graduates will be in debt, with an average of $29,400 debt). The mob has not risen up with torches and pitchforks in hand to demand that exploits our very own children be changed.
• Businesses have become people. Mitt Romney was the poster child of this idea when he actually said on his campaign run that “Businesses are people, my friend”. With this mentality, our government has gone to great lengths to help these ‘people’ out in times of crisis with rather lavish bail-outs, subsidies, tax breaks, and other means of bending over backwards. At the same time, actual people (the ones with flesh and blood) have become inconsequential. We’ve bravely fought off affordable/socialized health care. We’ve proudly defunded food stamps. We’ve drowned out the political voice of actual people by letting wealthy corporations control the political conversation with their vast sums of money. I mean, I do love Chipotle, but I wouldn’t want to marry her. Although, come to think of it, that might be more acceptable than me trying to marry a man.
There are many more reasons to be disappointed in the country, and realizing that you are disappointed in a few facets of our nation is the best way to celebrate this 4th of July holiday!
Okay, I won’t be a total downer, there are also some great things going on here in this country.
• America is using less ‘dirty energy’. Petroleum and coal usage are down, while renewable resources are going up.
• Our Constitution is pretty nifty, even if it does get ignored sometimes.
• We put people into space.
• Americans are eating less meat. Sure…it’s mostly because the price of meat went up, but it’s really something Americans needed to do anyway.
• We’re slowly decriminalizing marijuana. Currently, Americans are consuming 80% of the world’s pain medications…we might as well go natural.
• Some really cool people also live here. Too often our focus is directed at people we are told to hate (most recently some gal in Texas who likes to hunt). There are also some really great folks around but they don’t make it into the newspapers because good = boring. I like the idea that good is so prevalent that it is boring.
• The Dota 2 International tournament is being hosted here (it starts in 4 days).
• We’re getting better at being better people. Sure, it’s taking much longer than it should, but we’re making progress. In one lifetime, we’ve gone from “socially acceptable to openly talk bad about black people” to “socially unacceptable to privately talk bad about black people” (see also: Donald Sterling and LA Clippers). It’s progress.
So don’t be dazzled by the bright and shiny lights of the fireworks to the point that you forget that America also has some problems. I don’t mean to be a downer, I really do think this will improve your 4th of July experiences in the future. We have to acknowledge the problems before we can fix them. We can make this place better. Years down the road on the 4th of July you can say “America is a great nation, look at the things we’ve fixed just within my lifetime, and we are still getting better!”