July 1, 2011 11:21:00 PM
These are tough days for the American patriot. The economy is in terrible shape, yet our government spends (seemingly) recklessly on projects of which we just do not approve. Still, taxes are raised on the battered, rapidly-disintegrating middle class, but reduced for the wealthiest among us. Candidates for the most important public offices provide endless material for stand-up comics. Once, politicians were expected to be dignified.
We love our soldiers. However, it is not easy to understand why they are put into such extreme danger. What are they really protecting? And why are they in so many different countries? Is the result worth the price? We are proud of their bravery, but the risk must be for a cause with genuine importance. This is something to question.
I come from a generation that was taught that we were a nation of supermen, fighting for "truth, justice and the American way." We believed that, and were convinced, that everyone in the world wanted to be an American, because we were the "good guys." Now, we discover that America is reviled in countries that we may have never heard of.
Apparently, Mother Nature, too, is angry at us. Texas is scorched by drought. The Midwest is drowning under floods. Tornadoes are everywhere, and this is hurricane season. What should we expect next?
It''s no wonder Americans are apathetic, and especially about voting. What''s the point? Truthfully, it is in this demanding time that we should vote -- without exception, knowledgeably and enthusiastically.
As maligned as we are, U.S. citizens are still the luckiest on the globe.
There are countries where the people are not allowed to vote. Or, if they do, it is a meaningless charade. Their vote is not counted.
I have often complained about exposed underwear, pajamas in public, and baseball caps in restaurants. But, in truth, I am so happy to live in a country that allows its people to make those decisions -- no burkas, no veils.
Every religion has rules for behavior. They provide guidelines and define sin. We are free to choose a church, then follow its tenets. After that, we are on own. With the exception of the obvious (murder, armed robbery, you get the picture), we are free to make decisions about our actions. There is no likelihood of being stoned for a love affair. Scarlet letters have gone the way of stocks and wooden dentures.
As a woman, I can drive, own property, and make choices about my body and my fertility. There are countries where I would be considered the possession of my husband, or my father.
If we are accused of a crime, we are deemed "innocent until proved guilty." An American who goes to trial has the right to legal representation, and to see all the evidence presented against him. This is true of men or women, any race, any religion.
We can speak out against the government, and be secure in the knowledge that we will not disappear in the black of night.
We have the freedom to travel. That, alone, is a very good thing. Because, when we encounter people from other countries, inevitably we learn how much they really do wish that they, too, were American citizens.
Americans have a lot to gripe about. We do that with our freedom of speech and, most significantly, with our vote.
I wish a very happy Independence Day to my patriotic friends. I hope you are feeling fortunate today. There is no flag I would rather wave.
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina. Email reaches her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.