Monday, July 4, 2011

A Fourth of July and a nation like no other

It's been a while since I waxed politically about this great nation of ours and, with the luxury of a long holiday weekend, it's about time that I do something to deserve that worthy appellation of writer, which I am prone to bandy about from time to time. First of all there is little doubt in my mind that the United States of America - no matter the current or past political leadership - is the greatest representative democracy to ever hold sway over one nation. While some may accuse it of having devolved into some form of socialism, facism or anarchy, I am of a mind to believe that it is still a beacon to other nations as to what form of government they would prefer for their own. This land of wealth and luxury is marked by an upper echelon whose lifestyles, if we believe what we see on reality TV, are probably way out of control. Meanwhile, the lower strata of the impoverished, needy and homeless is readily improved through assistance from government agencies along with established charities, faith-based organizations and the efforts of well-meaning and altruistic individuals. Oftentimes, the idealistic individuals taking care of the unfortunates of society are our young, spirited volunteers who have time and time again demonstrated their readiness to stretch forth their hands of charity as they are to pick up a smartphone and text their friends about the latest gossip at school. I saw this with my own eyes following the flooding in New Orleans related to Hurricane Katrina, when I was a recipient of such help. And I've seen it time and time again from natural disasters in Haiti and Japan are even in our own backyards this spring when rivers and streams overflowed their banks. America's strength is in its charity and in its diversity. We are a nation that has embraced immigrants to its shores and into its borders since its inception and we need to be conscious of the fact that five centuries ago the natives who occupied it were happy to welcome us to this New World. It is important that we keep in mind that no matter our age or station, we are but mere tenants, awaiting our replacements. Our country has amassed the most powerful and fearsome force on the planet, but we have had the capacity to understand that our might should not be unleashed frivolously and that the strength we exercise in diplomacy can be far greater and yield more beneficial results than that which would be gained through force. Sadly, we are still embroiled in far-off conflicts and our brave soldiers are still dying for the cause of protecting our freedom. It is easy to say these words when we have not lost a loved one or neighbor and for those who survive such a loss, we should be understanding and grateful for the sacrifices made. With the death of Osama bin Laden our country has shed some of the collective shame we felt in allowing the attacks on America to occur. This upcoming tenth anniversary will be a time for us to reflect on where we need to be vigilant against present and future foes. We need to consider that our ability to act as the leading nation in the world may be compromised in the future by other nations who are moving ahead technologically at a greater pace than we are. China in particular is about to pass the United States for the first time in the number of patents granted, the first such occurrence since records of that sort have been kept. We no longer have the record for the tallest skyscraper in the world: that trophy now goes to Dubai. We are deficient in several other areas where we had previously led the world, but the question we should ask is does this portend a loss of our own strength or, more likely, a change in the parity of the world's nations? We should still be proud of all that we have accomplished and keep in mind that we are probably stronger and less inclined to have to police the world when we have active partners engaged in commerce and protecting their own interests. This eliminates the need for us to carry the day by ourselves. Certainly, the cynics will decry such a thought that strong allies make for a more peaceful world, but it is important to remember that the old suppositions of win-lose may no longer have any validity in today's landscape of up and coming nations all vying for a bite at the apple. So on this Fourth of July, I hope we will all concentrate on the freedom and liberty we enjoy as a sovereign nation. Perhaps the good feelings we have towards our neighbors will spill over to other nations who will look at what we have and envy us for all of our many blessings.

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