Today is Independence Day, America. Happy birthday to us all. It seems like a perfect day to share what I think are ten things about this country that make it the best place to live on the face of the Earth.
Let us admit from the outset that we got lucky. Real lucky. Imagine some of the greatest minds in political theory, law, and philosophy all clustered in one small geographical area at a time of great political significance, and then imagine them all coming together to forge a lasting political framework the likes of which had never before been seen in history. From Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence to Madison’s Constitution, talk about the right people being at the right place at the right time. Incredible.
The Rule of Law
The most significant accomplishment of the Founders has to be the system of government they established, in which the law triumphs over all over factors. We should not take for granted the durability and justness of the system they put in place. Has it been perfect? Of course not. Wealth and power still often tilt the scales of justice, just as gender and race often contributed to the miscarriage of justice in the past (and sometimes, in the present). Still, ours is a system built on the rule of law, and we are immeasurably better off for it.
The United States is a paradise of natural resources and beauty. If you have never taken it upon yourself to travel throughout the country, do so. Mountains, rivers, lakes, beaches, prairies, and vistas of lush beauty can be found everywhere. We have space. We have abundant resources. We have rich soil. We really have it all in terms of the natural world.
In no other area except for perhaps music does the “melting pot” aspect of America truly shine so brightly. What do you get when you throw Europeans, Hispanics, Asians, Africans, and Middle Easterners all into one cultural kettle, and set it to simmer for two hundred-plus years? You get some of the best food in the world. You can find anything you want to eat here, of whatever variety, and one should never grow bored eating here in the United States.
The American Military
It has become rote to state that we have the strongest military in the history of the world here in the United States, but that makes it no-less true. The U.S. military is in many ways the cop that walks the beat 24/7 to maintain the peace of our neighborhood, and the surrounding area. We take it for granted sometimes, but we should not. Peace through strength is real, and we are militarily stronger than is often appreciated.
Yea, I know, Hollywood is full of out-of-touch elites and commies, and they are responsible for the coarsening and polluting of our culture, and so on. But still, do you not love a summer blockbuster? Do you not love an air-conditioned theater on a hot summer day, with an obscenely giant tub of popcorn, lost in a fantasy created by some of the best writers, directors, actors, and film crews in the world? I know I do.
Everyone seems to hate the press these days, too. I get it. You don’t always (or ever?) trust them. They can be biased. They can be petty. They can be blinded by partisanship. But guess what, so can we all. They are us, and we are them. Despite its flaws, the press is one of the institutions that keeps this country humming. It keeps government power in check, it exposes injustice, it shines a light on charity and success, and it truly is the Fourth Estate — a fundamental part of our democracy.
We might not be the best at the “beautiful game” — soccer — which so enthralls the rest of the world, but by God we are athletic powerhouses in so many ways. Whether it be constantly winning the medal count at Olympic games (both summer and winter) or dominating our native sports of basketball, football, and baseball, Americans love to engage in sport (to borrow a turn of phrase from Mitt Romney). There is just something innate and primal we feel about athletic competition, and we strive to be the best at all of it. Not to mention, it is damn fun to watch.
Just take a moment to stop and ponder what we have accomplished in terms of space travel. We have strapped men onto giant rockets, ignited them, and shot them off the surface of the planet, out of the atmosphere, and on to explore the vastness that lies just beyond our native planet. And oh yea, we usually bring them back safe and sound. It is truly incredible and one of humanity’s greatest accomplishments.
Finally, we would be remiss not to mention America’s most important characteristic: her people. After all, even though we have the Founder’s system under which to live, and the natural resources to sustain us and make us rich, we would be nothing if not for the people who make up this country. That includes the Native Americans who lived here first, the descendants of the first settlers and slaves, the progeny of the successive waves of immigrants who followed, and those who have taken the oath of citizenship on this very day.
America would be nothing without Americans. We have to do our part to keep safe this sacred gift. We can never become complacent or take for granted just how lucky we are to live in this place, under this exceptional system.
Happy Independence Day, everyone.
(Image courtesy of Wikipedia).