It’s a Beautiful Day in the USA: A Re-Evaluaiton of the American Mindset
It is a place called the United States of America. It is a place where anyone can freely speak about what lies on his mind. It is a place where citizens are encouraged to question authority without fear of being branded a heretic. It is a place where freedom is nurtured and where patriotism is a way of life.
That, of course, is what you are told. It is what most people believe they have, even if they are skeptical. It’s what your parents taught you. You are to be proud of your country regardless of any circumstance, through thick and thin, so to speak.
After all, from day one of elementary school, all small children are taught to stand up and recite in unison a pledge to a flag representing something not one of them truly understands. It is something your daughter or son does every day at school as you get ready for work. And yes, the act of reciting a few sentences, which are meant to signify your loyalty to this nation united under God, does make you feel good; It provides a sense of security for your dignity as an American; It fosters foster unity through strength and responsibility – a responsibility to adhere to the principle of preservation, and what a noble responsibility that is!
Yet as you grow older, you begin to realize how this country really operates. You take notice of the empty rhetoric your leaders shove down your throat every time you watch the talking picture box or read the printed edition of the daily blab. You have enough intellect to know it is all so fundamentally wrong, but not enough intellect or self-worth to actually do anything about it.
Wait! It’s six o’clock and time for the news! The unemployment rate is two tenths of a percentage point down? That’s acceptable! (You suppose) Only seven soldiers were slain overseas today? Yeah, it sure is sad, but at least it wasn’t eight. The government has managed to spend another trillion dollars that came from nowhere – from thin air? Well, at least Congress was able to agree on a few billion dollars in cuts. Another child was forced to take his shirt off at the local airport earlier this morning? Hm. You guess everything is okay as long as you are promised safety. You wish to hear no more, so you turn it off and continue with your normal schedule.
You believe that as long as you keep your day job and pay your taxes – you know, behave as a ‘good American’ – you will lead a comfortable life. You keep to yourself, your family, and your closest friends. You vote in the elections to maintain your civic duty, you keep a yellow ribbon on your door until the troops come home, never questioning why they are there in the first place. You consider yourself a patriotic citizen.
You go to church every Sunday. You say a prayer every night. Your little church in your little town helps you live a fairly normal and secure life. You may be aggravated at Washington, but Washington is so far away. Sure, Congress is extremely ineffective, but your Congressman is doing a fine job, right? Besides, you vote! You do your part! You even have a friend who takes a keen interest in local politics so he can say he is involved. You would not even think of doing something like that; you have neither the skill nor the time. Of course, you know the problems are at the federal level, so there’s not much you can actually do to really change anything. But you wish you could.
Oh, and what is all this talk about your freedoms being stripped away? Who are all these college kids talking about the Constitution? Why are they so concerned about “principles” and “conviction” and the “rule of law”? They should be planning for the rest of their lives. You tell them this. They tell you they are concerned about their future. They are planning for the rest of their lives. You shake your head and smile. It’s certainly nothing you haven’t seen or heard before. But you don’t blame them for wanting something better. Maybe they’re just going about it a very different way. After all, even though they don’t know everything, you still don’t either. At least they’re doing something. It’s more than you’re doing, you suppose. As you lie awake late at night and your spouse enjoys a deep, satisfying slumber, you think about everything—nothing in particular, just everything about life. You wonder if your job will still be there for you next week. You wonder if the young man from down the street who is now serving his country from behind a gun in a far-away land will ever come home. Most of all, you wonder if the world your children will raise their children in will be half as magnificent as the one you had the privilege of being raised in.
Yet you’re comforted when you remember that you heard that the rain is supposed to stop by two o’clock tomorrow. It’ll just be another beautiful day in the USA.