For a country largely composed of the descendants of individuals unwanted elsewhere, and who, in their native lands, would probably be hip-deep in each others’ blood—yet who have managed to slowly craft this country into a democracy emulated by other nations suffering under or snapping back from centuries of idiotic notions like monarchies, dictatorships, and socialist-in-name-only autocracies—we’re doing pretty well in the U.S.

Yes, things are sweeter in the homogenized faraway lands, with freebies and freedoms galore and, fine, better food. But I guarantee you, if you carve into the sweet creamy avocado of their tolerant history… you’ll find a bit of rot. You’ll discover they were slaughtering their neighbors over a few extra tracts of land; kicking out or liquidating their country’s original inhabitants because God told them to; torturing folks for having the wrong religion, hat, or haircut; selling off humans they defeated in war or rounded up; discriminating to horrifying mental, physical, and emotional degrees against their womenfolk; and the like. Why is the U.S.A. such a haven for bigotry, imperialism, and greed? Well, we had excellent teachers. Hell, most of them got the ball rolling here in the states. But that was all in the past, you say? Why not ask them how they’re treating their immigrants lately?

Which is not to say that there isn’t tremendous room for improvement in America. Oh, God yes, we suck in so many embarrassing ways. But please admit that we have always, however slowly, progressed positively. Yes, the douchebags are occasionally in power, the Amurrikan people can done be kinda stoopid en masse, and change hasn’t come fast enough, but come on, things are always getting better here. But it calls for constant positive action, less reflexive cynicism, and a little more faith in what we’re capable of.

Every now and then I remember sitting on top of my roof with my dad every Independence Day, watching the fireworks in the surrounding burgs. One year, Dad pointed at the neighbor’s flag, flapping proudly in the breeze. Our neighbor set up the flag to commemorate (if I heard the story right) his two brothers, who lost their lives in the Pacific Theater during WWII. Once the flag was stolen by pranksters. Our neighbor  quietly posted the above story on the flagpole. Within a day the flag was restored.

“There, Dan,” said my dad by the rockets’ red glare. “That’s America.”

Certainly, it was only one aspect of my country. A simplistic one. But I understood what he was getting at. It was about a feeling. One not easily put into words, and not readily dismissed.

Just some sappy, sugary food for thought.

Author: Mr. Dan Kelly

Chicago writer interested in many things.