The Fourth of July is a chance to enjoy food and fireworks with friends and family, but also a time to think about what the country means to us.
Here’s a list of some reasons to be proud of America, though I’m sure each person could come up with their own special catalog of things that make this country special. (By the way, I don’t love anything just because it’s American—for instance, I’m not a fan of our unsingable national anthem.)
The Declaration of Independence
A country used to mean a place, with a people. But America was built on an idea—that we’re all equal, and have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
In some nations, you might still be considered an outsider even if your grandparents first moved there. In America, whether you go back to the Mayflower, or just became a citizen today, you’re as American as anyone else.
The First Amendment
Especially the “freedom of speech” clause.
A lot of countries claim to support freedom of speech, but when push comes to shove, they ban truly unpopular speech.
In America, free speech is written into the Constitution, and our courts back it up. People may vehemently disagree with what you say, but America will allow you to say it.
Title of Nobility Clause
Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8 of the Constitution—“No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States...”
We don’t have Sirs or Lords. You may rise or fall in the esteem of others based on your character, but in America, we’re all peers.
America is the most powerful nation on earth, but it’s how we use the power that counts.
Some critics call America a bully, but they lack historical perspective. Of course the most powerful nation has influence (and sometimes we’re rough on our enemies—that’s how foreign policy usually works). But, historically, powerful nations have sought to gobble up other countries, or plunder their wealth. Ever since America became a superpower, its main desire has been for other nations to be free, and to trade with them, not fight with them.
It’s also easy to forget the deterrence factor of America’s might, which helps guarantee a certain safety and stability around the world (enjoyed by many who knock America for throwing its weight around).
Life is hard enough, so it’s nice that there’s a place to go at 3 am, even if it’s just for cigarettes and lottery tickets.
Look at the top companies in 1990. Know what you won’t find? Google, Walmart, Amazon, and quite a few others that are big today. America is still a place that rewards ingenuity.
We have the most popular pop culture in the world. In music alone, we’ve given the world jazz, Broadway show tunes, the blues, rock and roll, rap and so on.
Part of the reason for that domination is our diversity—there are always new looks and sounds percolating in our culture.
America has always been a work in progress—the Founders built in a system for amending the Constitution, after all. Americans believe if something isn’t working, we can change it.
The political debate can get rancorous, but July the 4th is a time for all of us to get together, and understand that the differences between us are generally differences of people who are working to make the country a better place.