I’ve recently written some things a bit critical about America and American culture (particularly pop culture), and—seeing as how it’s nearing our Independence Day—I figure I ought to share a more positive vibe. Therefore, I’m offering a few things below (in no particular order) that make me happy to be an American and living in America :-D. I know that not all of these things are unique to my country or nationality, but I think—in combination—they highlight a positive uniqueness.
- The freedom to fail and make a comeback (or comebacks!)
I know of no other countries where folks can fail—go bankrupt, make their companies go bankrupt, do something really stupid or dastardly in public—and still have such high chances of redeeming themselves with later, more favorable actions. Sure, there’s still often some stigma to failing, but it’s not fatal or absolute.
- The encouragement to be creative and innovative
I’ve lived in Europe, I’ve traveled to at least two dozen countries around the world, and I’ve never seen a culture with such an openness to wacky, outlandish, and yes, impossible dreams. This, among admittedly many other factors, is why America has been and remains the center of dot.com bold insanity and brilliance.
- The opportunity to get world-class and well-rounded university educations
Yes, I think many other countries offer better and more comprehensive primary education systems. And yes, I also know (and envy) that colleges in many other countries charge students $200 USD or less per year! 😮 But with that said—from personal experience and the experiences of my international friends—I truly believe that our universities offer exceptionally top notch educations in both practical and unpractical fields.
- The freedom to speak our minds
In print, on the street corner, and on the Internet. Within some limits, we can hold up signs depicting our public officials in Nazi regalia, call major CEOs imbeciles and tyrants, and even (confirmed recently) burn our country’s flag. Though bearing a female nipple is (usually) out, we have a freedom of speech and assembly that billions of others around the world can only dream about.
- The environment which straddles superficiality with friendliness, often with charming results
I’ve cynically derided the American tradition of “How are you?” as a symbol of superficiality. But when it comes down to it (and again, this is confirmed by many of my international friends), it’s easier to start a friendly random conversation with folks in America than in a great many other countries. Whereas a former non-American colleague of mine looked baffled and a bit uncomfortable in an elevator when a fellow rider struck up a conversation with him, such goofy friendliness—even if initially superficial—is something that’s often much appreciated and yet also taken for granted.
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I know this just scratches the surface.
What things about being American and/or living in America make you happy?