It’s great to live in America

Thu, 06/25/2009 - 10:49am
By: The Citizen

By Greg Moffatt
Special to The Citizen

Independence Day is just a few days away. In the difficult times we live in right now, it is easy to be discouraged. Our retirement accounts are looking meager with the trouble in the stock market, the national debt is out of control, housing values are down, and there are troubles overseas with our allies and enemies alike. No matter what one’s political orientation, there are things to be discouraged about - conservatives are unhappy with the current administration and liberals are discouraged with the huge challenges they believe they inherited from the previous administration.

But in spite of it all, this is still the best country in the world. I’ve traveled to nearly two dozen countries on four continents and the world is an amazingly beautiful place, but I can think of very few places I’d want to raise my family other than the great United States.

Our country is geographically diverse and as beautiful as anywhere in the world. The Rockies, Sierras, Appalachians, and Smoky Mountains are as beautiful as most any mountain range in the world. The beaches of Oahu, Florida, and the black sands beaches of the Big Island of Hawaii are unmatched anywhere. The Grand Canyon, Mojave Desert, the plains of Iowa and Nebraska, and the rocky coasts of Maine and Oregon couldn’t be more serene and picturesque.

We have the best food in the world. As I have traveled, I come to appreciate not only the diverse foods of Asia, Europe, Africa, and Central and South America, but also how the United States has adopted the best foods from everywhere as its own. Even in the smallest towns in the U.S. one can find Italian, Korean, or Mexican food. Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Atlanta overflow with international options - Argentinian, Brazilian, Indian, Thai, Cuban, French, German, Moroccan, and Japanese just to name a few.

We have the best health care. Our doctors are better trained, they have better equipment, we have better hospitals, better emergency care, and better elective care than anywhere in the world. If I were facing a medical emergency, I’d want to be within the borders of the United States.
There are more opportunities for jobs, career, advancement, education, and recreation in the U.S. than anywhere else. As my undergraduate students approach graduation they often experience angst about facing the “real world.” Sometimes they don’t know what they want to do with their lives. The good news is they don’t have to know. This is America and if they make a mistake in career choice, they can simply choose something else. A career decision at age 21 doesn’t lock one in forever.

Maybe best of all, if we don’t like something in the U.S., we are free to express ourselves. As we are seeing in Iran, dissatisfaction with elections can only be expressed in a limited way. In the U.S., if you don’t like Obama, Bush, Clinton, or whomever, you can say so as loud as you want for as long as you want. You won’t be exiled, silenced, or executed. Many people have been discouraged with the contentious presidential elections the past few cycles, but not me. I’m glad they have been close calls because it has caused people who have historically been uninvolved in politics to get involved.

People know who is running for what office more than ever before and people are voting in historically massive numbers. In the 2004 presidential election, the U.S. census reported more than 64% of registered voters cast a ballot. Compare that to 48% in 1996. That is a 33% increase in voter turnout in just two presidential election cycles!

We have problems, there is no doubt. There is corruption in government, reckless spending, questionable ethics, and clearly Americans are not unified on a host of social and political issues. We have challenges for our future such as our economy and use of natural resources, but despite it all, we have a great country.

Teach your children about how our system works. Make sure they can name their state representatives and senators. Discuss the political process with them and learn where your candidates stand on issues beyond their cheesy political soundbites.

This 4th of July, remind your children that the holiday isn’t just about picnics, parades, and fireworks. It is about freedom and we are, despite what anyone says about our governmental system, free, and that is worth celebrating.

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