There’s too much negativism about America. Quizzically, much of it comes from Americans ourselves. We need to get real and refocus on how good America really is. I’m not suggesting we hide from our imperfections but instead that we focus on our positives.
Sure we’ve got our problems and make mistakes like every nation…and WE THE PEOPLE will always have our problems and will always make mistakes. People are imperfect. We err, we fail, and we commit crimes. Some of us are stupid. No mortal and no thing or place on this earth are perfect. And they never will be.
If you’ve been in the military or lived overseas or studied history, though, you’re less likely to be too critical of America’s faults because you’ve seen or learned about far worse faults in other places at other times and with other people. It’s like that old adage, “I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes until I saw a man without feet.”
So let’s appreciate our feet and take a quick tour of America. I know, I know. “Liars figure and figures lie” and some of those figures I quote below may be a few years old and several percentage points off. The studies I quote probably had some flaws and biases. They’re imperfect, remember?
But they paint an overall picture of America. That painting’s theme? We’re a good, well-rounded nation. We care about people and the world and beyond. Sure, some of our caring is about self-interest and self-protection, but much of it is about America being that “shining light on a hill” that President Regan reminded us about.
Americans are the world’s “Atlas”. We prop the world up on our backs. Based on information contained in the DoD’s 2015 Base Structure Report, the US has 170,000 troops deployed to places and bases in at least 74 countries and has a presence in practically every corner of the world, ranging from thousands to just one in some countries (like a military attaché). By comparison, the UK has bases in seven. Those numbers don’t count America’s massive diplomatic presence around the world helping to maintain peace and order.
There are some 5,300 colleges and universities in the US. It’s an educational system the envy of the world.
Believe it or not there were 282 NCAA college basketball games played by those colleges this past Saturday alone, plus two NFL playoff games and a number of NBA and NHL games and Olympic and other sports competitions. In one day. In one nation. No other country in the world works so hard and plays so hard.
Americans are the most generous people in the world. According to a 2017 Money Magazine article, Americans gave $360 billion dollars to thousands of charities from religious to the arts to disaster aid. This figure doesn’t count the $173 billions worth of time devoted to volunteer charity work by Americans.
And that half a trillion dollar-plus figure doesn’t count US foreign aid, which in fiscal year 2014 (according to the US Agency For International Development), amounted to almost $50 billion.
The US has had three times the number of Nobel Laureates than the next closest country including six Americans receiving four of the 2018 awards (Wikipedia).
Only China beats us in the total number of books published in a year (Wikipedia) although when figured by the number of books published by population, we beat China hand over fist.
By most measures our economy is strong…our currency stable. How fortunate are we? Venezuela’s annual inflation rate is nearly 1.5 million percent according to a report from the International Monetary Fund published this past October. It takes a wheel barrow of cash to buy Arepas (small pitas made with corn flour and filled with a variety of ingredients) there.
Notwithstanding the emotion behind the issue, the US has the largest immigrant population in the world with 47 million immigrants as of 2015 not counting (according to the 2016 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics) the US admitting 1.2 million legal immigrants in 2016. We’re a welcoming, opportunity-laden nation. No wonder people want to come here in droves.
At the same time we’re focused on all those earthly issues, we somehow find the wherewithal to focus on the stars too. Americans invest in SpaceX, the International Space Station, the Hubble Space Telescope, the Curiosity Mars Rover, the Juno Jupiter Mission, and the James Webb Space Telescope project amongst hundreds of other NASA and commercial missions, projects, and studies in space.
I could go on and on. By mentioning all these glowing statistics, though, I’m not suggesting we’ve reached our zenith and can rest. We can never rest. There are too many things to fix and defend and learn. We can always get better.
But with appropriate humility for our successes, let’s at least acknowledge and celebrate our positives and appreciate that shining light from the hill. The constant negativity about America is not just plain wrong. It’s tiring.