America (Ef Yeah!)

Americans are really good at being unnecessarily cynical and sarcastic and maybe a little bit judgmental, not only about others, but about ourselves as well.  (What?  Us?  Never!)  It isn’t limited to the over or under educated, either.  Some of the most sweet, wanna-save-the-world variety people who I know also love to hate on the United States.

Yes, we operate within a broken system, but everyone, everywhere does to some degree.  I would say that America’s brokenness is at about the level of a car’s check engine light being on.   It definitely needs to be addressed and fixed, but it’s ok to keep driving and enjoy the ride in the meantime.

It’s awesome to be an American.  Since today is Independence day, I want to share what I think is awesome about living here.

Freedom

Yes, we have a painful history of inequality and yes, we are still battling against ourselves to create complete equality, but in the grand scheme of things, we are so lucky.  I can complain about my government in the most explicit, rude terms or, on the other hand, take proactive action and try to fix what I think is wrong and I won’t be imprisoned or quietly executed for either.

Likewise, I can practice any religion that I want, I can educate my own children if I have that desire and ability, I can choose what I do for work and what I do for fun.  I can go on any website that I want to because my government doesn’t censor it.  I can do crazy shit and travel all over the place or sit on my butt and watch television for days at a time.  I can walk, bike or drive across the country on a whim and do nothing productive until my money runs out and the worst that will happen is that my family will freak out a little bit about my not being in school or having a steady income.  My government does not care.

It’s easy to forget how awesome this is because it’s just the way things are for us.  The only thing stopping any of us from doing anything (nonharmful) that we want to do is ourselves and sometimes our peers.  Both of those entities are manageable if we are willing to put in the effort.

Public Education

Again, I’m not going to be a tool and say that we have a perfect system, but we do have a system, and at the very least, it is a good one.

I am lucky because I grew up in the suburbs and in a state that is pretty good about supporting its schools. My elementary school was mostly fun and a little bit challenging.  On top of regular classes we had art, music, gym, recess and “explore”, which was a class at the end of the day that we got to choose.  It ranged from quiet reading to power walking to learning about Australia or a craft of some kind.

My teachers in middle school were caring and invested individuals who took the time to find students’ talents and attempted to grow them.  Music, art, tech ed and gym were still required and after school activities began.  My high school had the same kind of teachers and amazing technological resources, arts programs, and a decent set of sports teams.  Classes were unique.  There was a lot of choices for which classes we wanted to take to fill our credits.

It wasn’t perfect, but it was good and in all three of my schools students got what they put into the courses. There were advanced, regular and remedial courses and most teachers were really good about being available if you needed them.  Yes, there were the assholes who thought that being a teacher meant ludicrously challenging the peons who came into their classrooms, but there were also the teachers who wanted to be there and, if they weren’t well-liked, at least they were good at what they did.

Scenery

I’m not going to use words for this one.

And that isn’t even counting any of the man-made beauty, of which we have plenty.  Hello, gorgeous.

Work Opportunity

I have approximately five jobs right now.  I’m employed as a brand ambassador for three or four different promo companies, I’m a banquet server and I’m a nanny.  That looks immensely impressive (in a blue-collarish workaholic kind of way) until I confirm that I, too, think the recession sucks.  I get less than 30 hours a week with all of those jobs combined.

Regardless, there is a lot of work available in the States and the variety of jobs available is staggering.  I’ve worked in warehouses and canneries and as a secretary.  I’ve given surveys and worked the audio visual department of my college.  I thought about selling knives and decided I wasn’t that desperate.  I’ve been a hostess and a barista, a house-, pet- and babysitter.

I think I would like to be a writer or own a vineyard and sustainable farm.  Probably both.

There are places where work options are enormously sparse and the work you do you are probably born into.  Even when it’s hard to get a job at least we have a little bit of variety.  We can study what interests us and then make a stab at the dream-career.  No, it doesn’t always work, but sometimes it does and sometimes something better comes along.  Also, the internet has made working for oneself easier than ever.  Freelancing is becoming super popular and people are generally taking initiative and making the job market ever more interesting in the United States.  With a lot of initiative and a little luck, we, again, have it really good.

Diversity

I am not talking about the color of a person’s skin, because skin color does not define an individual.  It can and does impact a person’s experience, especially in the United States, where history is painful and those most set on reaching equality are unwilling to exchange their culture for equality.  Even though skin color is not my point, I do love that on one street there might be a Sudanese, Russian, Korean, Swede, Mexican, Australian and a Native American. That is what we call a human rainbow, and everyone loves rainbows.

Every part of the United States is just a little bit different from the next, and that is what makes it so much fun.  We are all linked in generalized similarities, but this country is huge.  City people are different from country people.  Northerners are different from Southerners.  East Coasters are different than West Coasters.  People talk, act and believe in different things wherever you go.  Again, there are underlying commonalities, but when I talk to an African American friend from Chicago our conversation sounds, looks and feels different than it does when I’m talking to a Pakistani from New York, a Filipino in Alaska or an Irishman in Minnesota.

I am all for being well-traveled in order to understand other cultures and your own, but I am firmly of the belief that you can do that within the United States if you go to the right places.  And that is cool.

I’m proud to be an American.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Advertisements

2 Responses to America (Ef Yeah!)

  1. gandalftrust says:

    Lots to think about, Holly, as I read your last blogs! So much of what you write here is so true. We do not live in a perfect country, but there is not perfect place – and this place we call home is very much like the car with the engine light on – great analogy! I think you are wonderful!

  2. blesshsu says:

    love it, love it. congrats on the 5 jobs. i feel you on that one. holla working peeps.

    and i agree with you…we can be rough on this country but it is an AMAZING place to live. i’m reminded of this when i hear my husband tell me his great-grandparents’ textile company / fortune was taken away during the Com’t Revolution in China. or when i visit Asia, like now, and see what i coulda been up against if i hadn’t had parents who made sure to take me to the place with the greatest freedoms and opportunities for schlubs like me.

    love beauty. and i wanna buy your first round of free-range eggs or organic greens or compost or whatever it is you’ll sell on your future farm.

Say Something:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: