"And with a straight face, you're going to tell students that America is so star-spangled awesome that we're the only ones in the world who have freedom? Canada has freedom, Japan has freedom, the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Australia, Belgium has freedom. So, two hundred seven sovereign states in the world, like 180 of them have freedom.
"And you—sorority girl—yeah—just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth one day, there are some things you should know, and one of them is that there is absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we're the greatest country in the world. We're seventh in literacy, twenty-seventh in math, twenty-second in science, forty-ninth in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, number four in labor force, and number four in exports. We lead the world in only three categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next twenty-six countries combined, twenty-five of whom are allies. Now none of this is the fault of a 20-year-old college student, but you, nonetheless, are without a doubt, a member of the worst-period-generation-period-ever-period, so when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don't know what the ---- you're talking about?! Yosemite?!!!
"We sure used to be. We stood up for what was right. We fought for moral reasons, we passed laws, struck down laws for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were, and we never beat our chest. We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured disease, and cultivated the world's greatest artists and the world's greatest economy. We reached for the stars; acted like men. We aspired to intelligence; we didn't belittle it; it didn't make us feel inferior. We didn't identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we didn't scare so easy. And we were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed...By great men, men who were revered.
"The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one—America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.
"Enough?"In case you didn't know, that was an excerpt from the opening scene of the pilot episode of HBO's The Newsroom. The character, portrayed by Jeff Daniels, is a prime time news anchor named Will McAvoy. Obviously, he doesn't care much about what others think of his opinion; he simply calls it like he sees it. (A full clip of that scene can be seen here.)
Last month, I sat down to watch the President of the United States speak to the people with his State of the Union address. I was extremely intrigued....not only by his address, but also by the responses I've heard from some of my fellow Americans.
Here in my twenty-fifth year on this earth, I've come to find that a few things seem a bit out of control. Maybe it's the economy? Maybe it's the lack of world peace? Perhaps the climate change? Or technology? The internet? Crime? Poverty? Hunger? Money? Greed? Sex? Anger? Misfortune?...
It's impossible to put the blame on one particular aspect, but I feel obligated to share my opinion on a few matters.
The United States of America has sadly, and unfortunately, transitioned from "The Land of Opportunity" to "The Land of 'Give Me-because I Deserve It'."
I truly believe that a thriving society only thrives when its citizens play their respective parts. This applies to, but is not limited to, any society, community, town, city, state, and country. No matter how big or how small, each society has an infinite number of moving parts and contributors. Unfortunately, the society is only as strong as its weakest member. (Cliche´, but true at the same time.)
Since when do we, as Americans, believe that we're owed a convenient, lavish, and worry-free lifestyle just because we were born within the borders of the U.S.? Since when does our culture promote equality at the top of the mountain without any intention of making the climb? Since when is it acceptable to take and take and take, without any effort or determination to give back? I have absolutely no problem with a government & society that is determined to help its country's less-fortunate; however, I do have a problem with a government & society that is determined to provide for citizens that are too lazy, too proud, too selfish, too disrespectful, and/or too self-entitled to take advantage of the opportunity to work and provide for themselves. That is what made this country great in the past. (Please note there is a difference between those who don't work vs. those who can't work.)
Our society once strove for the chance to live the American Dream. Our country began with a society who refused to quit, and with leaders who never stopped striving for greatness within themselves.
Here's the point: We Americans are not born with anything owed to us. Each of us must play the cards we're dealt, and make the best of our respective circumstances. We are not entitled to decide that we're able, yet unwilling. Too many Americans today jump at the chance to claim their "given" constitutional rights to avoid inconvenient circumstances, but gladly and knowingly disrespect and disregard the very values in which this country was founded. Those values are hard work, determination, and striving to be the best together with a moral standard, among others; NOT being content with surviving and being dependent on another person's fortunes and successes; NOT placing blame on people because of their differences; NOT bending at the knees of political correctness; NOT seeking the easy way out; NOT crying victim every chance we get; NOT accepting failure.
When (and why) did it become the American culture to stand in the streets and scream about our rights? When did doing something become interchangeable with saying something? When did our culture become more defensive (anything and everything is taken as disrespectful by one group or another, which leads to civil dispute), rather than offensive (identifying a problem, discussing a solution, and collaborating its execution)? Believe it or not folks, the United States is more socially, politically, and morally divided than any time in our history since the Civil War. Look it up. It disgusts me.
Listen: America began with immigrants. We're all immigrants through one blood line or the other. We're all part of a huge melting pot of people from all walks of life. Don't neglect that fact. Don't disown fellow Americans because they're different; rather, respect it. Embrace it. Appreciate it.
Speaking of, one thing I don't appreciate: How does a society embrace, promote, and idolize people who serve as such horrific role models for our children? Is it really necessary to project such uncivilized lifestyles to society? No, it's not. At the same time, doesn't this type of influence eventually transform the perspective and beliefs of our society? Unfortunately, it does. And I'm left wondering what happened.
Here are some fun facts that everyone should know. If you disagree, do some more research. If you still disagree, you're unfortunately stubborn and/or naive.
- President Obama has done absolutely nothing in attempt to take away your right to bear arms.
- Homosexual marriage will not end the world. They have rights like everyone else. (How will that even affect you?)
- Alcohol abuse causes more deaths in the U.S. each year than marijuana, cocaine, and heroine abuse combined.
- Phil Robertson's freedom of speech and constitutional rights were never compromised in his now-famous interview with GQ Magazine. When you're working for someone else, you should be prepared to face consequences of your actions and words. Sorry Phil, that was too far. (Do you think anyone else could get away with that while being paid by their employer?)
- The definition of the "debt ceiling" is probably not what you think it is.
- The United States of America was not founded on the beliefs of Christianity. Quite the opposite, actually. (For the record, I am a Christian.)
- There are open jobs on the market for the taking, if you look for them. (Even though your dream job might not be available immediately after high school or college.)
- Guns don't kill people. Really, they don't.
- The wealthy pay more indirect income taxes than you think. They certainly do not pay lower taxes than the middle class. Learn your stuff.
- Racism still exists as a part of our culture only because it's primarily used as an excuse and/or a cop-out, sadly.
- Roughly 60% of registered voters in the U.S. placed votes in the last Presidential election.
- Women can do work. African Americans can do work. Homosexuals can do work.
- A staggering percentage of unemployment applications are filled out by people who only work seasonal jobs. (Amusement park employee for three months, unemployment benefits for the other nine, for example.)
- The Republican Party is not run by Republicans anymore.
- Change doesn't start in the White House; change starts with you.
Put your efforts where your mouths are, America.