Tuesday, September 09, 2003

So it's been over six years since I graduated high school, but I don't seem to remember my history classes being particularly unfair to America.

I'm sure most of the people who come here think I hate America. Well, I don't. Sorta. You see, America and I have a complicated relationship. I love the ideals that this country was founded upon. Freedom, equality, religious tolerance - just to name a few. Granted, that looks a little weak, considering it was laid down by a bunch of white, slave-holding land owners. Whether the founding fathers were hypocritical or not (and they were), I think the principles that were supposed to define this country are able to stand on their own merits.

Oh, and I will make a definite stand that I hate our leaders. The Bush Administration, the weak-ass democrats - they all fucking suck. I think my opinion on Washington is already well known, however.

I think it'd be more accurate to say that I hate what we, as a country, have become. I think we are running down a dangerous path that is causing us to stray more and more from those founding ideals. We've become a nation where civil liberties are curttailed in the name of (the illusion of) safety. We have a good number of people who think government promotion of Christianity is OK. We have a populace that is still afraid of things like homosexuality. We have a culture of corporate greed that every one of us feeds off of and feeds into. We run around the world cramming our religion and our system down people's throats. There's obviously plenty of other shit we do, too. All in all, I think we're squandering a whole lot of potential. America is becoming the tall, attractive, smart, funny guy who ends up marrying the worst human being possible. Few things piss me off more than unrealized or discarded potential.

America isn't alone, and we're not the only country who does some or all of the things I've mentioned. Since I live here, though, it makes it easier for me to see what we're up to, and puts me in a better position to criticize.

Yes, of course, I'm only mentioning the bad things, just like this report is accusing the educational system of doing. But you know what? I've always viewed that as my job. It's easy to look at the good side of things. If we just looked at the good and not the bad, we'd never work on any of the bad stuff and make any progress. Also, the uglier elements of American history cannot be ignored. I'm hearing a call for "balance," but I'm severely doubtful in this day and age as to just how much balance they want.

If you're worried about kids not being patriotic enough, tell that to our government first. Tell them to start acting more patriotic. No, I mean real patriotism, not wearing an American flag lapel pin just in case you're photographed, while you pass legislation cynically titled the PATRIOT act.

One thing I definitely agree with is the call for more study of non-democratic societies. A lot of kids will be able to better appreciate what we have in our society just by seeing it juxtaposed with societies that don't have the freedoms that we do have. Well, the freedoms that we have for the time being, at least. Lots of them will be able to draw their own conclusions and develop their own sense of what America is to them without having it preached to them. Yes, they're not all going to fall in line with some people's ideals of what an American citizen should be, but that's what happens in a free society where people are allowed to be free thinkers (I'm pretty sure we have a few of those left). You know what? That's a good thing, that idea of people forming their own diverse opinions.

Oh, and for Christ's sake, let's see a little more study of people who aren't white.

The reason why I'm so pissed at this country is because I know we can do better. Okay, at this point I've gotten really skeptical as to whether or not we can pull it off, but I think we definitely should be trying harder and doing better. You wanna know what helped me develop this opinion? Amongst other things, my history classes when I was back in school. Despite showing our darker moments, they showed me that the United States has accomplished some truly remarkable things. I want to see more of that now and in the future, and I'm not afraid to look on our often ugly past and increasingly ugly present as a motivational tool.

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