Thursday, July 05, 2007

America the Admirable

4th of July considerations from the pen of Sir Jason...

This is inevitable for today. Nonetheless, it is as well to think of what is good about America. America is often vulgar (Extra, extra, another famous person has committed an act of depravity!), self-hating (Some of our ancestors were evil - we don't deserve to live!) and even cowardly (Our enemies might actually try to kill us; poor us!). And yes that is blowing off steam too - I am not immune, there are things I dislike about America too.

What is good about America? Americans are idealistic. They are even idealistic in politics. Sometimes this translates into stupid naivety but sometimes it is brilliant. One of the things I am most proud of is the Berlin Airlift. We were willing to take incredible risks to save a prostrate enemy. Certainly we had our "own interests" in mind. But how a nation interprets it's interests tells things about it, as well.

Americans work hard. Some of the things to best remember America for is work, sometimes highly dangerous work. From the sailors and fishers on the east coast to the railroaders, to the pioneers and cowboys, to the Alaskan miners Americans have taken pride in work. It is to America's good fortune that boys have male role models that are not necessarily warlike. America can be proud of it's achievements in war but even those come to a large degree from it's achievements in peace. Patton would have been nothing without Henry Kaiser.

Not all nations have this saving grace. A lot of what made Germany what it turned out to be was that German boys had no one to look up to but soldiers. German soldiers were brave and often worth looking up to. But they were just soldiers and Germany became convinced that the symbol of manhood was how much one could harm others. America never did this.

America also can be praised for carrying on an ancient tradition. Through most of history the strongest ruled by strength and there was none to say them nay. America's tradition comes from a different source. From Cincinnatus the Roman general who retired to his farm after victory. From the Athenians who discussed every part of life at the agora at Mars Hill. From the Spartans who feared their law more than Xerxes' slaves feared him. From the Northmen with their "moots", and "things" where even great rulers must give way. And from the Jews where the prophet Nathan could rebuke a king's sin and receive favor for it.

Americans don't just have an ideology of democracy, they have an instinct for democracy. This can be seen where "without king, officer or ruler" Americans "go out in ranks" in such seemingly petty parts of life as lining up for a Starbucks or driving through the street. It is known instinctively even if few reason it out, that every man has his place, and "the King's under the law for it's the law that makes him king". That is what democracy is , not the mere ability to count votes - for 51% can vote to exterminate the other 49%.

It would be idle boasting to say this belongs to us alone and there is no reason to. It does however belong to us. Then there is Civilization. That is an unfashionable word. However you know it when you see it and those that live without it are unfortunate. The cities work as they should. They are clean for the most part compared to many cities in history. Water and electricity circulate and food is distributed efficiently. As one immigrant said, "I want to go to a country where even the poor people are fat." The police and armed forces are efficient and they are the servants of society and not the masters. In foreign countries when there is a natural disaster, casualties are counted in the thousands. Here they are counted in the dozens.

The things I mentioned are not unique to America, though America has her unique way of applying these things - her "personality" - as do others. But that is the point. There is nothing in loving ones own country that precludes loving others. I have a fond feeling for England, Israel, Switzerland, Poland, among other places. But America deserves a special place in our hearts, just because it is ours.

Sir Jason, the American

2 comments:

  1. Well said, Sir Jason. It is fashionable to focus on the downside of our history or culture, but it is far more productive to the soul, and to our community, to remember and reflect on the things that make America the sanctuary that refugees the world over still strive to attain. All things human have their dark side, and all countries have evil in their past, but such is life.

    Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. - Philippians 4:8

    Sir Chuck

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  2. Oh I forgot, another part of "civilization". Americans don't have generational grudges, or at least don't take them as seriously as folk in many countries do.

    Sir Jason

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