What a country!

An ode to America

I could just as easily call this what a world, or what a city, or what a life. Its kind of a 'raindrops on roses' piece about all the wonderful things I see around me. Of course, its no coincidence that I'm retired now.

In America, anyone can get a stacked hot dog for $2 nearly anytime day or night at 7-11. Here, free wireless and bathrooms are no farther than the nearest library. Everywhere I go, there are these big spacious bike paths, and in Boulder I found I could rent a car for $35 a day.

What a country!

Walking around California there are all these beautiful public beaches. I've seen them use sand zambonis to smooth them out each morning. At night, these same beaches have pits for fires where people gather around guitars and sing. If you want a more private scene, there are a handful of state parks where you and 7 of your friends can find a spot to camp 100 yards from the ocean for only $25 a night.

At universities, one can go to lectures for free to learn from the most brilliant people in their fields. In America, we don't just have any canyon, we have the Grand Canyon (which, by the way, is really, really big). Here, in America, there are are piles of money floating around for people with a good idea, dream, and some elbow grease; just look up some grants and venture capitalists. We live in a country so bountiful that a homeless dude bumming a smoke from me the other day actually turned it down when I showed him it was a hand-rolled.

Going to Denver from Omaha, I flew a distance in hours that took months and lives 150 years ago for intrepid families in wagons bound for uncertain prosperity. Right now, I'm two thousand miles from home and keeping touch with my friends and family. If you are ever laid over at an airport near a casino, they will send a shuttle to pick you up for free in 15 minutes.

In America we've never had a military coup. Though its open to some debate.

Right now, my friend Lynsee Melchi is getting paid to live her dream of becoming a vet in Africa, because The Rotary Club gave her a much deserved scholarship. My former bosses Gayle and Tanja live blocks from work and can leave early when there is a film festival in town. My friend Dave is going to one of the best psych graduate programs in the world. Eric the same in econ. Mom is saving a house that participated in the underground railroad. Sam Hutson is going to be a Doctor. Peter Cahill will be a Lawyer. David Lee is becoming a rock star. For that matter so are Hosek, Miller and Lundeen. Dan is studying fermentation science (getting others drunk). Amy gets paid for photographs. My grandparents Haley fought through the depression and WWII then bought a Cadillac, while Grandma Joan owns a half millions dollar farm.

To appreciate the opportunities that above abridged list of people I know enjoy I'd like to relay a anecdote my brother told me explaining why his girlfriend's Dad left Mexico for America. The dad told my brother that he left for work. Not just any work, but any work. In Mexico, he was never going to be anything but a rancher, while here he could be anything. Its good to remember that most of the world is full of ranchers and farmers who have no other way to make it in life.

And why am I writing all this patriotic hoopla? Am I tired of American cynicism? Certainly not, amazingly, this country is built on a foundation that grows stronger with the pressures of criticism. Is it because I think this country is the best? No again, we should look to the best (Sweden, I think) for inspiration.

What my motive really comes down to is a matter of appreciation. Its easy to set the bar of our expectations so high that we can only look down on the reality around us. And its good to remember that the bar's been lower, much lower. For billions of years critters on earth have struggled just to eat and procreate before they die. For millions of years humans have contended with petulance and plague. For thousands most felt the pressing need to fight and kill just to keep their lot in life. Thats not to say were past all these struggles, but they are rarer now than in the whole great history of the earth, especially so in America. Its worth being thankful to the hard work of our heritage. They've really done us right.

1 comment:

E said...

My great-grandparents left Ireland so that their children might be uneducated manual laborers, that their children's children might graduate from high school and even study "business" in college, that their children's children's children might study Marx and learn French and frivolously waste time on drugs and novel-writing...

Joking aside, I agree with the sentiment of your post. It enrages me when people threaten to move to Canada, or Europe. Example: my hippie uncle and his batty wife left Portland for Germany because they "couldn't take the fascism" in the United States. GERMANY, people. I know it was sixty years ago but they'd invade France the second they got a chance. Fortunately (? -- perhaps it would be best for the world if there were no French), the US is there to prevent that from happening.

Okay, seriously, joking aside for real, I was emotionally affected by a Labor Day immigration rally a few years ago -- the old Mexican ladies draped in American flags did it, i think -- and I love my country. I'm glad you're enthusiastic, too.