Sunday, July 6, 2008

Proud To Be An American

Happy 4th of July! (Well, I started writing this on the 4th of July, but then I had to work... so happy belated!)

While I always feel patriotic around our independence day, I feel this year it seems to be enhanced by my surroundings. Of course working on a 4th of July show is the culprit. Not only a 4th of July show, but working on a 4th of July show in one of the most patriotic places on earth. As part of my job I'm researching the Revolutionary War and patriotic songs, contacting and working with Military families, and of course watching Glenn rehearse. In general I feel like I'm more patriotic than the average American. Well, at least the average city dweller. I'm positive I couldn't hold a flag to the average heartland American, nor those here in Provo. But I'm proud of our country, and I'm proud to call myself an American. I may disagree with our leaders and our country's moral direction at times, but overall I am proud for what our Nation stands for. 

Refreshing one's historical knowledge on the Revolutionary War is always a good reminder of where we come from. Of course one could be facetious and claim our founders were a bunch of rich white men who didn't want to pay taxes, but they were much much more than that. Like Martin Luther who separated himself from the corruption of the Catholic Church to return to a morality based faith, our fore-fathers separated themselves from the corruption and taxation of Britain to begin a new country based on the fundamental human rights of "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." Our founding fathers fought against unimaginable odds in order to achieve these rights for their children, and their children's children- for us. 

In these dark days it's very easy to be down on the United States. We've stirred up a global hornet's nest of terrorists. We're all too willing sacrifice morality to make an extra buck. We try to spread our own politics upon others. We let our gross commercialism spread like a virus throughout the world. Our schools are falling behind, and we've allowed our them to adopt backwards sex education practices. But with all of these things in mind we still live in the land of the free. We're able to voice our opinions, practice any faith we choose, we're allowed to spend our lives pursuing any job we choose. We're able to start companies from scratch, have an idea and nourish it into fruition. These are freedoms that many countries throughout the world do not have, and many who do have them have acquired them from our example. We're a nation built on a fundamental principle human rights. 

Voltaire, the French philosopher, once said, "I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it." As much as we may disagree with political parties and thought within our country we must always respect it. We should be proud of the fact that we live in such a country where we can all have our own political and religious without punishment. But at the same time we must not take this freedom for granted, nor should we abuse it. Since we have the freedom to possess our own opinion and speak it, we must also do our selves and our country a service by being informed. Pick up the paper and read the news, know what parties, people and policies you're voting for- and vote! Take care of your surroundings, don't liter, don't use more than you need, and pick up after yourself. Be a good citizen, smile at your neighbor, hold the door open for people, pick up something if they've dropped it, give the woman standing your seat. These are all little things, but I think many people overlook these little things, and don't realize that even a simple, "How are you doing?" can brighten someone's day, and more likely than not that person will pay it forward. As Ghandi said, "Be the change you wanted to see in the world." This of course can be applied Nationalistically as well. Be the change you want to see in this country. And be proud to be part of this country, cause for all of our downfalls we really are a great place, filled with a myriad of great people. Make yourself one of those. 

I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives.
I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.
~Abraham Lincoln

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