Why America is not the best country in the world, and why it never was - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Islander Times News

Why America is not the best country in the world, and why it never was

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Posted: Tuesday, June 3, 2014 8:36 am

It’s common to hear polarizing opinions on the state of the nation: the cries of degradation, deteriorating morals, and nostalgic recollection for the “way things were”; and then the rallying cheers of U-S-A, titles of “The Free World,” a land of freedom and hope unlike any other. These ideas are not always mutually exclusive of each other; in fact, among those who find America in a downward slope, many will follow their cries for change with a sentiment not unlike their counterparts: The US used to be the best country in the world.

Some charge the nation’s youth with the tainting of the US, a byproduct of the prejudice most current generations face. The blame can also be pushed onto either liberals or conservatives with ambiguous explanations of media bias and vague agendas that consist of turning America into a communist/fascist/devil-worshipping regime. Even the more moderately balanced may still yearn for a nation of what-was – but to linger longingly on days past in American history is to completely disregard to progress the nation has made and must continue to make. No matter ones preferred flavor of political climate, no time period beats the present in regards to social and political equality for women, non-whites, LGBTQ* members, and more. Complaints of a better economy or job creation are incredibly valid and crucial to progress, but supporting solutions that may help in the future are more beneficial that shaking an angry fist at the young children across your lawn to reprimand them for their part in America’s downturn/inevitable shift into a totalitarian regime.

Patriotism is generally harmless; no country is brought to its knees by its citizens wearing American flag colored snap backs on the Fourth of July. But America is far from the perfect, shining melting pot seen in School House Rock. The US is not the only (nor the first) country to have a democratic system of government, and falls flat in many regards to civil rights, campaign finance reform, high gun deaths, and more. America, simply put, isn’t the best country in the world; no country is. To claim that any land is a rank above any other implies that we are exempt from criticism or immune to change, and remain – above all – a shining glory of utter perfection.

One form of this hyper-patriotism is in the obsession with the very founding of the nation, who demand to return to the days of our founding fathers. Of course, my previous point about civil rights goes without saying, but an obsession with our apparently utterly perfect founding documents and principles also arises. No one should judge modern political policies based on those created in the colonial era, as is the case with many arguments regarding gun laws or government regulation. The Constitution is an important document, but, for example, the right to bear arms – arms that, at the time, were clumsy and often ineffective muskets – should not overshadow the immense number of casualties guns cause today.

Similarly, our political process is steeped in this unnecessary patriotism, in which candidates are criticized for any lack of pride and must insist, incessantly, that America is the best, god-blessed nation in the world. Often, people align their patriotism with their political views, polarizing opposing groups as unpatriotic and fearful – a phenomenon that echoes the Red Scare, in which nations that did not have the same economic system as us are terrifying, inhuman communist out for American blood. A nation founded on the idea that all are created equal should not hate others for being different, but seek to bring ideas together in one national unity.

Compared to third-world nations, America is immensely privileged, and something to be grateful for. Rather than being thankful, humble, and appreciative of our home, the response is obnoxious and even harmful. Keep that flag snapback on and keep parading every 4th, but perhaps reconsider the national obsession with constant perfection, hyper-patriotism, and the old-way-of-things.

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