As the nationalistic ritual known as the 4th of July approaches, let me start off by listing a few facts about the US that you may or may not know:
- Current Prison Population in the United States: 716 prisoners per 100000. (as of 2009)
- Healthcare Expenditures in the US: $8,508 per capita. (2011 dollars)
- Ranking of US in terms of minimum wage: 7th. (Australia is 1st)
- US the only nation in North America without a Universal Healthcare System
- As of 2014, the US has killed 2400 people via drone strikes. Numbers could be generous.
- School to prison pipeline is a reality for many kids.
- The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was referenced by SCOTUS in the Hobby Lobby Case that could be used to discriminate against gay people even though it’s already been introduced in many states such as Kansas and Arizona.
With all that, I would normally feel defeat because of what has happened to America. And I say this while vacationing in Australia. But, I don’t because I learned that there is hope, but it’s a long road before we can improve ourselves and ultimately the nation. So, while many patriotic Americans (sarcasm) celebrate the empire that is America, I believe we need to look within ourselves and realize that we must be better people today then we were yesterday and be better people tomorrow and forever more.
I don’t know why but I find nationalistic holidays to be rather silly and childish because it exposes the sad truth that we still live apart from each other and we have this tendency to want to prove that we are better than everyone else. Americans should humble up, drop the flags, drop the overtly nationalistic chants and realize that we can do better. Let’s not pretend that everything is alright and pretend that America is some great country. It’s not, it’s just another country on a map. We live in this planet and reside in this universe, so let’s be better people and better neighbors because that is what matters.
Photo by Matthew Straubmiller released under a Creative Commons license.