Memorial Day was created to remember our war dead. It’s also a good time to remember what a special place we live in. Because despite the criticism, the irritation, the frustration and the fear that we “citizen bloggers” (as the Pew Research Center calls us) sometimes feel compelled to express on our posts, we know we are lucky to be citizens of this country. Sure it can be argued that America isn’t living up to its potential (and neither are its citizens) but for such a relatively young democracy, we’ve got a lot to be proud about. Look around and see how, despite the occasional dark mutterings and predictions of disaster, we so easily assimilate newcomers. Check out the new Indian-American governor of Louisiana and our Presidential candidates. We may lag behind a few other countries in terms of elevating women to positions of power but we’re improving. Racism exists in this country but not nearly, I will venture to say, as much as exists elsewhere. We are absolutely more tolerant in that regard. We haven’t experienced and couldn’t imagine ethnic violence on the scale experienced in many parts of the world.
There’s more than a little room for improvement. We’re a stable democracy but we still have too much violence, too many people in jail and a rapidly growing discrepancy between the rich and the poor. I have some grave concerns about the way the government does business at home and abroad. And recent videos on YouTube and elsewhere demonstrate how ignorant, willfully or not, most American citizens are when it comes to history, geography or politics. It’d be funny if it wasn’t so scary.
Information is power and while we often don’t work hard enough to get ours and then sometimes have to push a little too hard get it, we can get it. My friends from abroad are amazed at how accessible our government is, comparatively speaking and they insist that American society is far more open and stable than almost any other. They’ve got a point. Not only that, we can comment with as much impunity on our current Administration as we can about our current favorite celebrity. Now that’s freedom, my friends.