For the last 200-plus years, powerful words, such as liberty and rights have long suffered abuse and excessive use. These terms carry relative definitions depending upon which geopolitical state you call home. I am an American, and I am grateful to have been born here instead of North Korea or Iran. When was the last time you heard John Cougar bellow praises about being born in Bhutan? Chances are you haven't.
Here, my government recognizes that I have the right to make decisions. I have the right to be in hot pursuit of life, liberty and you know the rest. Everyone has rights; just not all governments were built by men fleeing religious persecution, illegitimate rule and harsh living conditions. Be grateful to be American no matter your position on the war in Iraq, the Kyoto treaty or the hypocrisy in key leadership. You have the right to disagree you know. You also have the right to feel patriotic and nationalistic or angry and embarrassed too.
For me, I am proud to be an American. I've studied, seen and sobbed over the piss-poor quality of life in many other places people call home. I've seen children competing against billy-goats for their lunch, sifting through compost piles in Kenya. I've studied the “visegrip” hold exercised over the most mundane, daily decisions in Bhutan. I've wept over the way Bosnian children zigzag around the landmines in their own backyards. These individuals have different and more difficult decisions to make than PB&J or Hotpockets for lunch and Nickelodeon or The Disney Channel for entertainment on a rainy day.
Be proud to be an American. You have freedoms others have not yet imagined. Be proud that your government knows you hold the power of choice. Be thankful for the economy, the marketplace of ideas, the square mileage set aside for national parks, the freedom to travel and the right to be you.
Happy Fourth of July!