Being an American
America is a young country, by many standards, with a turbulent history, with a civil war dividing our nation in the mid-19th century.
|early November in the woodland garden below the house|
We're in challenging times again; we're a country divided about what it means to be patriotic, how to feel about immigrants, and a huge inequality between rich and middle income and lower income Americans.
There is no place for American exceptionalism in my view -- we've been a beacon to the world in terms of liberty, free speech, access to education, and the ability to create your own destiny. I'm totally on board with that.
Where we've traveled, I've realized how limited access to education can be and how challenging living conditions can be. This is true across South America, Asia, and Africa.
Being in Europe for a couple of months over the last year reminded me of how our infrastructure here in the U.S. is not keeping pace, whether compared to Italy or Germany.
I was just remembering this afternoon coming home to our house in the Piedmont of South Carolina after traveling in South America, some years ago, thinking "we have this lovely old house, just for the two of us, with an acre-and-a half of landscape"-- I was totally mindful of that.
Even the poorest American still usually has electricity, running water, plumbing, and access to at least some food through food pantry distributions (I helped with a YMCA Healthy Living one today).
But America and Americans aren't special in any intrinsic sense. All you need to realize that is to travel. We need to be global citizens and embrace all of our fellow inhabitants of our planet, in these times of climate change and changing mores all over the world.
I think being an American is about standing up for the ideals of our Founding Fathers -- even if they didn't believe in women, people of color, etc. at that time -- they would now.
Let's embrace that.