Monday, July 04, 2005

Ten Things I Love About America

Happy Birthday, U.S.A!

I love, love, love my country for myriad reasons. The top ten of which I'd like to share today:

10) Baseball - I'm glad they're taking baseball out of the Olympics. This sport belongs to Americans, and I never liked the idea of countries like, oh say France, putting together teams wherein it's called something like le bôl de basé. Central and South Americans (and, maybe, further north North Americans) can get in on this too - just so long as the U.S.A. remains the heart of the great game of baseball.

9) Laura Ingalls Wilder - And all that she and Almanzo represent! I think that, better than any other works - historical or literary - LIW (and her collaborator and daughter, Rose Wilder Lane) captured the essence of America on paper. Consider this: "Americans are free. This means they have to obey their own consciences. No king bosses Pa; he has to boss himself. Why (she thought), when I am a little older, Pa and Ma will stop telling me what to do, and there isn't anyone else who has a right to give me orders. I will have to make myself be good." (Little Town on the Prairie).

8) Patriotic Songs - From "God Bless America" to "America the Beautiful" to "My Country 'Tis of Thee" to "God Bless the U.S.A." America has a wonderful treasury of patriotic songs that can be pulled out of our hearts' memories at a moment's notice and bring instant tears to the eyes of those who love liberty.

7) Las Vegas, New York, Los Angeles, The South, The East Coast, Seattle, The Heartland (aka Jesusland), Hawaii, and Everything in Between - Nothing on earth is more amazing than the variety of cultures, lifestyles, philosophies and terrain that makes up this great nation. No wonder so few Americans have passports - it takes a lifetime of travel simply to explore the U.S.A.! Natural wonders, man-made wonders, the religiously profound, the hedonistically vulgar, near-flat expanses of prairie grasses, snow-topped peaks of mountainous glory - if it exists, you can find a fine example of it in the States (we even have an Eiffel Tower replica - 50% scale - in Las Vegas!).

6) American Farmhouses - Probably my favorite architectural/interior style. I think that deep in the soul of every American is a desire for farmhouse living on a few acres - near enough to neighbors for a barn-raising or a hoedown, far enough away for privacy and independence.

5) George W. Bush - Okay, this is a dicey subject, considering how about half of America despises him and half just loves him. I voted for him (as a pro-lifer, I hadn't much choice - irony? yes!), and I agree with about half of what he says (bringing me into line with about a quarter of America?). BUT, I just love that the rest of the world hates him with purple passion. I love that his very visage throws most of Europe into a frenzy of limp-wristed, pansy pouting. I think that's GREAT! I even get a kick out of the fact that so many Americans detest him - it's good for people in a free country to be riled up and not complacent. Plus, all the right people (left people?) dislike him - Hollywood, university professors, mainstream media journalists, my chic-lefty friends, Holly and John - making the fact that I voted for him (despite some serious reservations) even more delicious.

4) Liberty-Oriented Educational and Promotional Organizations - Every country has some sort of free-market think-tank or even libertarian think-tank, but no country has more of these worthy groups than the U.S.A. We have an entire alphabet of organizations dedicated to promoting and preserving liberty: FEE (Foundation for Economic Education), FFF (Future of Freedom Foundation), AEI (American Enterprise Institute), IJ (Institute for Justice), CATO, L4L (Libertarians for Life), etc.

3) Homeschooling - No country in the world has more parents dedicated to homeschooling their children than the U.S.A. This is nothing but good for the future of our country and, therefore, the world. "As American as baseball, Mom, apple pie, and homeschooling." A great organization that promotes educational freedom is The Alliance for the Separation of School and State. Another important resource is HSLDA (HomeSchool Legal Defense Association). As goeth educational freedom, so goeth all of our other liberties in this great nation - protect homeschooling!

2) Our System of Weights and Measurement - Once called the "English System," until the Brits wimped out and went Frenchy, our system of weights and measures defiantly holds to ancient arbitrary standards, much to the consternation of the rest of the industrialized world. Tee-hee! The metric system is actually just as arbitrary as our own, since it was founded upon a calculation error, with the added burden of having constantly to convert from metric (which no one thinks in) to English (which everyone thinks in). Imagine a kilogram of cherries - now imagine a pint. See?! I also simply love our stubborn sticking with Fahrenheit when it comes to temperatures - especially when I go to Canada and see the citizens there alternating between Celsius and Fahrenheit to their confusion and my merriment. One guy we heard, on a recent trip up north, spoke of having a fever of 104 when the weather was over 30 outside - either he was having a bad fever in very chilly weather, or he was on fire (literally) in very warm weather. I once read that when the U.S. gov'ment decided to go metric sometime in the 1960's or 1970's, KMPH signs were shot down all over the country. An apocryphal story? Yes. Entirely consistent with ornery American contrariness? Absolutely!

1) Our Founding Documents and the "Idea of America" - Very few other countries have a birthday, and no other country in the world has better founding documents than our's. I love that America was founded upon ideas instead of happenstance. The Hand of God and the will of man combined in a holy burst of creativity and courage to birth this amazing land. No matter what the sins of our country (from slavery to abortion to war), we always have hope in something better because of our noble ideals - written down for all the world to see that we strive and hold to something better than the usual depravity that marks too much of human history after the Fall. Because we state so clearly what it is for which we stand united, it is easy for other countries to criticize us, especially when their national identities are much more nebulous and undefinable. That's okay, though. I'd rather fall short of a lofty ideal, yet still have that ideal in place like a shining beacon to which to aspire, than live without ideals (just as I'd rather live with God's standards as my goal, gratefully falling upon the grace of Christ when I inevitably fail to reach it, than live without knowing Him at all). And that is the great blessing and challenge for America: living up to the ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for which we declared our autonomy 229 years ago.

Heavenly Father, You who know the secret heart of every human soul, You who have surely never released this nation from Your loving arms through all of our trials and sins and failings - Lord God, please continue to hold us close and lead us to Your perfect will, so that we may be all that You have planned. Thank You for Your tenacity in not letting us go, even through our countless times of disobedience and stiff-neckedness. And, as we sing and pray that God will bless America, let us never forget that America must bless God. Thank You, Father, that You have, in Your wisdom, made an earthly refuge of liberty that has lasted over two-hundred years - please, help us never forget that the first refuge of liberty was given over two-thousand years ago in the great freedom of Jesus Christ. In His name, I pray. Amen.

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