I went out to dinner with my buddies Kevin and Eileen last night. Prior to gorging on Chinese food, we decided to enjoy a wonderful bottle of red wine (some of which my kitten decided looked best spilled all over the nice beige carpet – THANK YOU OXY CLEAN SPRAY!!!!!). Dinner was accompanied by several Moscow Mules, which may be my new favorite drink of the century and followed by a walk around Arlington, after which we wound up at a hotel bar. The bartender – an older gentleman from Jamaica – kept the drinks coming, and at some point I engaged in a conversation with him.
“America,” he told me. “Jamaica may be nice, the weather is beautiful, but I’ve been living here 17 years, and there’s nothing like this country. There’s nothing like the United States. It really is the best country in the world!”
He continued to extol the virtues of our nation for several minutes as I sipped my drink. He is a U.S. citizen, and his love and awe of this nation has not diminished over the years. So many Americans take this nation for granted, he asserted, and as I sat there and listened to him talk, I realized something many immigrants tend to understand more than those who were born and/or raised here:
We – as a society – have become so spoiled by the opportunities, by the consumerism, and by the freedoms with which we have grown up, we have developed a disdain for ourselves – a blindness formed by our lack of perspective, because we’ve always enjoyed what we have enjoyed.
It comes from both sides of the political aisle.
Conservatives and libertarians rail against the government, with many tossing the words “Marxism” and “socialism” around without truly understanding the meaning of those words. Now, we all use hyperbole every so often, myself included, so I wouldn’t condemn the overall use of those words. I will say, however, that the comparison of even our current climate to the former USSR by those who have never actually lived that horror is uninformed and reactionary.
When libraries are forced by the federal government to manually censor books using black sharpies or take books off the shelves altogether, then you can start comparing this nation to the Soviet Union.
When the federal government forces a uniform curriculum on every school in the country while banning private schools, you can talk to me about the Soviet Unionization of this country.
When your religion precludes you from pursuing your career of choice, you can start making USSR comparisons.
That is not to say there’s nothing wrong with what’s going on in this country today. That is not to say that our government and our country is perfect. The list of some pretty egregious government infringements is long and distinguished – from the secretive, nearly arbitrary “no-fly” list, to continued assaults on our Second Amendment rights after every tragedy, to the EPA, IRS, BLM, and other government abuses.
But here’s something we forget, because we’ve been so spoiled by the freedoms we do have: There are countries out there whose governments punish speech, there are nations out there who have outlawed “gay propaganda,” there are countries out there that still ban women from driving, there are nations that have no independent journalists or media, there are nations out there that have completely banned guns and punish armed self defense. And while we still have a lot of work to do, and by no means should we rest on our laurels, we need to get some perspective.
At the same time, the left grouses about poverty, lack of health care access, the minimum wage, and the alleged “gun violence epidemic.” This is a country where even those who live on government assistance have smart phones, flat screen TVs! This is a country where the homeless have actual resources – shelters, food banks, volunteers to help. This is a country where you do have access to basic medical care – even if you don’t have health insurance! And no, the two are not the same thing. We can have a rational discussion about the quality of medical care poor people receive vice those who are considered rich in this country, but resources are there, and they include charitable care through religiously-affiliated hospitals and other private charities, which by the way, the government is making a lot more difficult with continuing onerous regulations.
This is a country in which, despite a growth in gun ownership, firearms-related violence has been generally on the decline. It’s a nation whose fundamental Law of the Land strives to respect and protect armed self defense – both from violent thugs and from government tyrants. We can rationally discuss whether it is possible for an armed populace to defend itself against a much bigger, better armed state wielding nuclear weapons and drones, but the basic principle is there and undeniable.
And those who have never lived the actual horror of government control of the economy, but merely read books about it…
Those who lack a basic respect for their own labor, as well as the labor of others…
Those sheep, who think that the very politicians who use the public’s ignorance to get elected are more qualified to allocate the fruits of the labor of those whose skills they cannot hope to match than those who actually produce and contribute to economic growth…
They screech about the “injustice” of America, the economic inequalities, and their demands for a “living wage,” without understanding the fundamental economic and policy differences between nations that mandate the type of minimum wage for which they clamor – from the comfy confines of their home offices, their plush armchairs, or their ivory towers – because it assuages their guilt about having better funded, more comfortable lives than others.
One such arrogant redistributionist decided that because I was somehow more “privileged” (read: worked my ass off to get my current job for 20 years, struggled with two jobs to pay for my property and remain current on my bills, raised the rent once – by $50 – during the time the tenants lived there, and was in the red every single month, even after they paid the rent) than the child molester Cooper, who made the conscious choice that destroyed the lives of his family and others around him by having sex with a kid, I deserved to have them steal my home, because – as he put it – “It’s unethical for either you or the state to put a family out on their asses. More unethical than their occupation (but not by much, frankly).” Because as a home owner, I apparently had the responsibility to keep these child molesting thieves squatting in my house. Because it didn’t matter that I was getting ruined financially by these criminals. I’m the homeowner, and I somehow had an obligation to get raped by these repulsive, thieving criminals! And if I refused, I was nearly as bad as the kiddie diddler (better, “but not by much, frankly).
Needless to say, I no longer speak to this creature.
They don’t understand justice. They don’t understand fairness. They don’t respect this country for the opportunities it does afford to those who choose to take them, and they only choose to see what they view as deficiencies. They’ve been so spoiled by what this nation does offer, that complacence and contempt have set in, so they’re only able to focus on the flaws.
The gentleman from Jamaica was right. Many Americans are so spoiled, they have forgotten to appreciate what they have.
We are still America. We still have our rights and freedoms. We still have the voice and the ability to fight like hell to protect them. We still have the ability to educate ourselves, even if public schools do a substandard job of doing so. We have information at our fingertips, friends, neighbors, and countrymen who are generous – more generous than we have ever been – and more opportunities to achieve and succeed than most other nations.
Immigrants understand this. Those of us who remember life in other nations, under truly tyrannical regimes, understand this.
Maybe it’s time for many others to get some perspective.
Remember what you have.