#95 - Why I am proud to be an American (Watt Thoughts)
Why am I proud to be an American? It is for a variety of reasons, but basically they come down to one word. Freedom. We are free to do lots of things and we are free to not do these things also.
As Americans we can disagree. The government does not persecute us because we disagree with its stand on an issue. Nine people can now be running for the office of president and they do not have to worry about what this will cost them by the government. This does not mean that we cannot as individuals and organizations choose to buy from other places or not purchase certain products. We can choose as individuals to buy only those products that share our opinion is part of our freedom. Just as people can choose to not buy Dixie Chicks CDs today, we could choose in the 60s not to buy grapes from non-unionized farms, in the 60s, and 70s we could choose not to do business with companies doing business in South Africa. Each is a free choice.
We can worship God as we want. As long as our worship services do not harm others we are free to worship or not to worship in the way we choose. Look around at the times and days of various worship services. We have groups that worship on Sunday, ones that worship on Saturday (Christian and Jewish) and varieties n between. Not only do we have this freedom to worship in ways that we choose, but we are just as free to choose not to worship at all. We allow people to worship as Christians, Jews, Moslems, Hindus, etc. in our nation. We allow those with differing religious beliefs to worship freely. Moslems can freely and openly worship Allah in the USA, although there are countries in the world that do not allow Christians to freely and openly worship God. We do not have to be a member of a certain church to be in the government. Before the revolution, in certain parts of the colonies you had to belong the Episcopal Church or in England to the Church or England.
We are free to travel. We are free to travel wherever we want in our country and most parts of the world. This means that I have been able to visit 48 states. We do not have to get the government's permission to travel within the USA. I can choose to go to Washington DC next weekend, or the state of Washington or Washington, Georgia. Or I can choose to not travel. In many other parts of the world this freedom does not exist as the fear is of people learning about others. I can visit rich sections or poor sections of the USA. We also believe in personal property rights, so this does not mean I can just go on any land at any time with out the owner's permission.
We can choose to vote for, or not vote, our representatives. We have a voice in our representative republic. It is amazing to watch the rest of the world and watch such large numbers of people go to so much trouble to vote, walking long distances, etc., and realize that in our country so few choose to vote when it is so easy. However there is no requirement we must vote as in some places, and we do have a choice. Does that mean the choice I make will always win? No. But I am included in the process here.
This is the most beautiful and varied nation I have seen. This is not to say that there are not more beautiful specific locations in other countries, but overall this country is most beautiful. To date I have visited four other countries and hope to visit at least one more in the next year or two.
This is a nation that people do things to help others. It is a nation of individualists, but also people willing to help those who need help. When disasters hit, whether here or elsewhere in the world, people step forth willing to give to help people recover from the disaster. This can be their time, talents or money.
Education is available to all. We can choose to pursue a new direction of education at various times in our lives. In some parts of the country this education is practically at no cost to us. We don't just have private or parochial schools for the rich or religious, but we feature also public schools for all children and people for all levels from pre-K through post-doctorate. The government runs these schools and tries to give opportunities to all. We can even disagree with what is being taught. It is our choice also whether to attend these government run school or to attend non-government run schools or we can educate our children at home. However we believe strongly in education. I am glad we have the freedom to pursue our education in areas of our choosing, within the limits of our abilities. This means that in junior high school a decision was not made that I would be a certain trade for life. That I could choose in 1977 and in 1983 to pursue different graduate degrees. We worry about functional literacy in the USA while many parts of the world are still worried about literacy. We can choose our career.
We work to feed our people. We have people that are hungry and that may not get balanced diets, but it is very rare for a person to starve in the USA and that is usually their choosing or where it was others doing. We have stop gap feeding systems from government, to religious to private organizations. We feed our children in public schools. We are trying to make all people receive the adequate meals, but in some many other parts of the world they still literally starve and we as a people, organizations and government are doing things to try to help in those places also.
We can freely contact our leaders and agree or disagree with them and have no fear of retribution. Contrast this to the reports from Iraq of children's and spouses' tongues cut out, eyeballs gouged, deaths, all because a person disagreed with Hussein.
We are not perfect. We keep getting better. I look forward to when I get to heaven and live in a perfect land, but until then this is the best available. We have had major problems in the past. We did allow slavery for almost one hundred years, but we no longer permit it. We left women out of the process for a much longer period but they are now included also. Look at the candidates for President in 2004. They include white males, but also blacks and a woman. If we look at the top advisors to the president, we see blacks, whites, males and females.
Three are lots of publications on all sides of issues. Even what appears to be news stories of what is fiction, but still available. If you are not sure visit the check-out line of a grocery store or go to a news stand, even in a bookstore. We can choose to either read or not read or hear the pros and cons of almost any issue. I welcome this opportunity and freedom to read various view points. It is not just the government viewpoint we can choose to hear.
Lastly I am free to choose where I want to give and spend my money, or to not do either. It is not dictated to us we must spend money in certain places or only give our money to certain organizations. We are free to waste our money if we want.
I am proud to be an American because of my freedoms. They have been listed in the Constitution and its amendments. These freedoms are what makes the United States of America the great nation it is.
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