Friday, July 4, 2008

(Insert Deity Here) Bless America – We Need It – Dos

No this isn’t going to be a rant about how the U.S. is the greatest country in the world or a bash against the current state we are in. It’s more about being thankful for the opportunities and happiness I get from living here and being American.

If you know me, then you know I hate our current administration and am looking forward to casting my vote for a change. (Maybe this time it’ll be counted.) That’s one thing I love about America, I can say that Bush is an ass and Cheney is a dick and Charlie Crist is a brown noser. That’s allowed.

I am grateful that, politically, we have a changing of the guard that generally is peaceful. I appreciate that we have several holidays that I get to observe by being off of work (though I think we need more).

Being American to me means I can have the friends I want, do what I want and be who I want. Now this isn’t distinctly American, but it is part of my American dream – so don’t wake me up.

I am grateful and happy that I can explore other parts of this country and the world and appreciate it all. On a train to Bruge in Belgium, I was accosted by an ignorant American. Well, in Belgium I met many, but that is another story. Polly Prissy-pants rolled her eyes and bestowed upon me the doctrine that she was most familiar with when I stated that the countryside from Brussels to Bruge was magnificent. Paraphrased, she said “But it isn’t as beautiful as America.” Blindsided I realized why people don’t care for us sometimes. I imagined the other English-speaking passengers taking in the negative over the positive and lumping us together.

I like the attitude many Americans have about helping others. There is that sense of wonder when I read about or see a story about someone with so little helping someone else. It makes me want to jump up and volunteer for everything. That’s also when Ronn jumps in and tells me to calm it.

I am thankful that I live in a country that has a bit of everything when it comes to culture, ethnicities, food, wisdom and nature. I’ve visited glaciers in Alaska, waterfalls in Oregon, the Empire State Building, deserts in California, hometowns in Pennsylvania, horses in Kentucky and beaches anytime I want.

I truly am grateful to have stories to tell that are distinctly American, I think. Like the one of going to a Passover Seder at my friend Barb’s house. It was my first Seder and I had the book and everything written in both English and Hebrew. Around the table sat Catholics, Hindis, Pagans, Baptists and one Jew, our hostess. It was wonderful.

And yes the food. American food to me always comes from somewhere else. Even distinctly Southern dishes and New England stews were inspired by the people who came from another country. Even my own personal experiences with American friends ring with sounds of ancient cooks in languages I don’t understand. With Cuban and Italian specialties from Mich’s family, to ćevapčići from Guy’s Serbian roots, to babka from Patrick’s Polish side to Jerk delights from Renee and real Chinese food from Yiwen and so much more. Learning about where they came from (from either them or their relatives) and how it all made us what we are. All melding into the America that I love.

I love the idiosyncrasies of our country from melting Southern accents, to the distinct wit of Northwestern writers, to the artistry found on the streets of Brooklyn, to the quiet of the North Carolina Mountains.

I appreciate the freedom I have to be who I want to be. I can choose to work or not, marry or not, have kids or not, party or not, be insane or not and it all is protected. I know there are struggles that others face, but I have been pretty lucky. I’ve had the opportunity to move to other countries, but for one reason or another I chose to stay put. It has made all the difference. I dreamed of living in Paris, Brussels, Beirut and Tokyo. But I always stayed put. And I don’t miss it.

I am thankful and grateful to the men and women who have chosen to protect my country out of patriotism, future-thinking (school and work) and/or as a way to pull themselves up from where they started. I don’t agree with the war we are in now, but in a time of real struggle it is good to know there are people who are willing to keep us safe.

I am not an idealist, but neither am I a pessimist. Like Ghandi said, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” Whining and bitching is a waste of time. See what’s good, no matter where you live and change what you don’t feel is right. Keep learning and be open-hearted not close-minded.

Some days I am not proud to be called an American, but it is just a title. One of many that leads people astray. Being an American, and being me is so much more than words.

1 comment:

misschris said...

These are going to be a great series of posts. I like the gratitude idea :)