25 October 2008

I Love America (but still periodically leave it)

A rerun from about 2 years ago. It seemed appropriate coming into the election.

I once again got one of those "America - love it or leave it" kind of emails that always perplex me. I'm never quite sure how to respond.

I guess one could just agree … in a way that disconcerts them. This is a great country. It’s big, beautiful, has lots of opportunity, has helped to create fantastic things like the modern corporation and jazz music. We let our creative people – in the arts, business, or even politics – take their shot at disrupting the status quo. This is a wonderful place.

But which America do they want me to love? The America of Woody Guthrie or Senator Joseph McCarthy? The America of labor union activists or robber barons? The America of hip hop or rock or hymns or jazz? The America of John Steinbeck or Hunter S. Thompson, Eudora Welty or Walt Whitman? Tony Robbins or Billy Graham? Ralph Nader or Pat Robertson? The America of Jimi Hendrix or George Strait? Hells Angels or the KKK? Rednecks or latte-sipping yuppies? Wall Street types who get $30 million bonuses at year end or agricultural workers who get $30 at the end of the day? Evangelicals who get in your face to save your soul or the atheists who get in your face to tell you that you don’t have one? Ivory-tower liberals or sitting-at-the-diner-counter conservatives? Strip miners who leave the ground turned inside out or environmentalists who want all construction projects to stop?

America is such a big sprawl of a place with such diversity that I’m never sure what it means to say that you love it other than to say that you are a cultural omnivore who loves (not just tolerates) diversity. It is an amazing country and the oddest experiment in social diversity that this planet has ever witnessed, a place where worldviews and religions are started like fast-food franchises. To say that you love America is to say everything and nothing, I suppose.

I love America.


LSD said...

Nice post Ron.

At the tail end of the big campaign election I suppose we should also appreciate the fact that we live in a place where much can be made of lipstick and hair plugs without people being silenced.

And regarding the leaving; I am a big proponent of that. I think travel gives us new perspectives on America. -Love it, leave it, come back to it and be glad for it.

Three cheers for the big idea we have inherited!

K-Kix said...

I like America. Can't say I LOVE it (yet). I constantly debate with myself on whether I should join the bandwagon (as you know - the number of siblings I have plus parents who have migrated there)

I hear many of my countrymen who live there in the USA say "there's still no place like home - meaning the Philippines" and yet continue to live in the US. So it is a question for me too - Love it and live in it? or love it but leave it?

exskindiver said...

i feel a post coming on....

exskindiver said...

rats, i forgot about that comment moderation.
comment in moderation--
is that the same as drinking in moderation?

whatever happened to the gratifying feeling of seeing your words published as soon as you hit that orange button?

Ron Davison said...

cheers! indeed. and to think that our family got to immigrate here twice (a mulligan?). How many can say that?

I think that anyone with feelings about this country has mixed feelings about it. I really do love it. And it really does make me feeling like pulling my hair out at times.

I had hoped that turning on this comment moderation would weed out the extremist comments. If this does not pan out, I may yet return the pleasure of the instant gratification of self-publishing.

Big Al said...

These United States of ours are truly a potpourri of ideas & feelings & passions all munged together yet somehow still unique.

It's like we all live in a huge home with millions of individual lights powered by passions providing illumination. I only hope all our passions can continue to burn brightly following the elections on November 4th, no matter which candidate gets elected to be our next President because whomever gets the keys to the White House for the next 4 years will most surely continue to need our passionate support to help light his way. The absolute last thing any of us need to do is turn out the lights. We are ALL the light.

Lifehiker said...

A perfect time to re-post this excellent piece of work!

cce said...

I couldn't agree more...to love this country is to embrace this "big sprawl of diversity" yet it seems that those who really, really tout their patriotism with flags and bumper stickers and tattoos are usually those that are opposed to at least 90% of the cultural diversity that makes this nation great - please explain that one to me. I mean, you know I get it, but why don't they?

Pinky said...

Great post, Ron! You made my brain cramp a little, and I so appreciate that!! Personally, I would never say, 'love it or leave it'. I just wish that some people would not try to turn our nation into a foreign land of their choosing. My dream would be for the US to maintain her sovereignty, her liberty, her democracy. My fear is that we will fade into the landscape and no longer be the shining light that we've always been.
I do love this country. I love the polar opposites that you wrote about. That's exactly WHY I love this country. I am so incredibly blessed to be an American.

Ron Davison said...

you had me at munged together. You were waxed poetic.


I suspect that more bad policy than we know is the result of a failure of imagination.

I think that it's too late for anyone group to make this country their own - which is reason enough to love it.