Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Is America Really That Great?


Or have we become arrogant and complacent?

Public Domain Pictures
Earlier this year Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York, stated in a speech that America “was never that great” . This comment drew the ire and the condemnation of many American “patriots”, but was he actually right in a way? We have always been taught, growing up that “America is the greatest country in the world”. We never questioned that assertion and we never had a reason to question it. But how was that determination made and by whom? It’s like believing in God, as all religious people do. We are told He exists, but we have no proof. It’s just a matter of faith.

“ America. Love it or leave it”

The same thinking applies to the belief that America is the greatest country in the world. If we don’t believe that America is the greatest country in the world, we’re labeled as unpatriotic, ungrateful, or even treasonous. We often are told “ America. Love it or leave it”. Just this week the President of the United States basically said those very words to 4 freshmen Democratic members of Congress, who were all women of color and harsh critics of him and his policies. If we don’t actually believe that America is the greatest, does that mean we don’t love America? I’m sure the citizens of most countries of the world view their country as the greatest, and love it as much as we love ours.

…always strive to do our best or to do better.

As we were always told that America was the greatest country in the world, we were also being taught about life. In athletics we were told to always strive to do our best or to do better. In school we were always taught that we can do better. We learned the importance of corrective criticism . We were encouraged, and are still being encouraged, that we must not be complacent about anything in our lives. If that is true for the citizens of this country, shouldn’t it be true of our country? Shouldn’t we all strive to correct the shortcomings of America and strive to make her better for all of her people?

…do they just don’t care?

I have traveled quite a great deal and lived in Malaysia for seven years and was always astounded by the ignorance of many Americans I spoke with concerning my foreign travel experiences. Some people actually thought that most of China had no electricity and Malaysia had no air conditioning! They were surprised to hear that Thailand and Malaysia had thriving health tourism industries and that their healthcare systems are not only top rated, but also extremely inexpensive! I have even had people ask me if children in Asia go to school like American children! Many Americans still believe that China and India are economically very far behind that of the United States. I really do not understand how, in this interconnected world, with the Internet and 24/7 cable news and social media, so many Americans can be so ignorant! Is it because they don’t want to be educated about another country of the world or do they just don’t care? I believe that the majority of these people believe that America is the greatest, regardless of what anyone says.

in the United States, students graduate saddled by staggering amounts of student loan debt.

So why is America so great? Let’s look at education. According to US News and World Report “Despite being home to some of the best universities in the world, the US is not considered to have one of the most educated populations. The U.S. ranks №18 in perceptions of an educated population, just above South Korea and behind Italy.” Every country in Europe and most in Asia offer completely free college tuition or substantially reduced tuition for their citizens, whereas in the United States, students graduate saddled by staggering amounts of student loan debt. Also in the US the quality of public education is dependent upon the wealth of a particular school district, with those from predominantly white, more affluent school districts faring much better than poorer non-white school districts. Children of more wealthy parents also have the luxury of sending their children to elite private schools.

This doesn’t make us so great.

Now we turn to healthcare.And we all know where we stand on this! According to Business Insider the United States does not even rank among the top 16 countries with the best healthcare. The Patient Factor has published a chart by The World Health Organization that ranks the United States number 37 out of 190 countries! Of the developed countries, the United States is the only country that does not offer its citizens free healthcare. According to Snopes , 643,000 Americans become bankrupt due to medical costs every year. In developing countries this is zero! Americans also pay much more money for prescription drugs than most other countries in the world. Because of this fact many Americans are “illegally importing drugs from other countries of the world” according to Drug Watch. This doesn’t make us so great.

We cannot be proud of the declining attitudes in this country towards minorities and the treatment of minorities in our judicial system.

Some of the saddest statistics which I see to be inexcusable are those statistics on infant mortality rate. Amazingly the United States scores much higher than comparable countries of the developing world. The Peter Kaiser Health System Tracker breaks down the ranking of the US as compared to other countries, as well as other demographics including minorities. Viewing some of these statistics is very depressing , but they also show that the US is improving slowly in some areas. We all know that the US has a high rate of drug abuse and we also have the highest prison population rates of any country in the world, without referring to statistics. It’s a national embarrassment to lead the world in these two categories! We also have no reason to be proud of the number of school shootings, which have become almost common in this country. We cannot be proud of the declining attitudes in this country towards minorities and the treatment of minorities in our judicial system. We cannot even be proud of our President and Congress!

…the rise of “religious liberty” laws that are nothing but blatant attempts to legalize discrimination…

During the last three years we have seen the progress made in this country in regards to civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights and other minority rights slowly being diminished. People of color have learned to fear for their lives in dealing with the police in situations as benign as a traffic stop. We see incidents where a suspect of color was shot and killed reaching for a cell phone, while a violent white criminal was apprehended alive, without a shot being fired. We have seen some police forces being infiltrated by the KKK or other white supremacist groups. We have seen transgendered people being demonized along with the rise of “religious liberty” laws that are nothing but blatant attempts to legalize discrimination against the LGBTQ community.
Does this make America great?
Perhaps the saddest and most disgusting trend in this country since Trump took office is the treatment of immigrants, both legal and illegal. Children are being ripped from the arms of their parents and put in cages in detention centers, where they are denied basic medical care, as well as the fundamentals of daily proper hygiene. What’s even worse is that these conditions are not only accepted by GOP politicians, but are encouraged by them at the heed of the President and his administration. While the majority of us condemn these situations, loyal Trump supporters and even some in the ranks of the Homeland Security mock and defile the children and their families. Does this make America great?

…America , for the time being, is the richest country in the world…

So why might we say that America is the greatest country of the world? America has the strongest and best equipped military in the world. America , for the time being, is the richest country in the world with the world’s largest economy. China is very close behind. America has some of the best universities in the world, including MIT, Harvard, Yale and Stanford, and many others. Students from all over the world come here to attend these and numerous other fine institutions of higher learning. The same can be said for our world class hospitals, such as Massachusetts General Hospital, The Mayo Clinic, MD Anderson and many more fine healthcare facilities, which count among their patients people from the world over, including numerous world leaders.

The United States possesses an abundance of invaluable natural resources second to none.

The United States leads the world in the number of entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, who have positively impacted world technology and society in general. Silicon Valley is the envy of the technology world, but is only one area of our country leading the world in technological innovation. The United States possesses an abundance of invaluable natural resources second to none in the world as well as having some of the world’s most scenic wonders, such as the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls and Yellowstone National Park. Unbeknownst to most Americans the United States leads the world in production of oil, even though we also are the world’s biggest oil importer.
America is more than a country . It is a feeling.

How America is great cannot be easily described with statistics or with words. America is great for what she stands for. America is great because she offers opportunities and hope for those who don’t have either. In America you can become who you want to be, regardless of economic status, religion or race and even disability. America is so diverse that no matter how different you may be you can find your niche here. America is one part of the world where you can experience the food and culture of every country in the world without leaving the country. You can hear every language of the world and have the opportunity to learn that language and culture from the sons and daughters of immigrants from those countries. You can live a lifestyle in America for which you would be jailed or even executed in some countries of the world. I believe it’s called freedom. Our Constitution makes America great because of all of the rights and freedoms it grants to all people in this country.  America is more than a country . It is a feeling. A feeling of pride and a desire to help others, who are less fortunate, regardless of who or what they are. America is a willingness to give someone a chance that they thought they would never have. America is the Statue of Liberty and all she stands for. America is what we her citizens want her to be.

We should never lose sight of the future.

All of those shortcomings discussed above can be fixed, if we try. But first we have to admit they exist. We should never be complacent in feeling or saying that America is the greatest country in the world. We all must not accept mediocrity for ourselves and our country. We must not accept the failings of our country as normal or irreparable. We can’t just say “America, right or wrong”. We have to help America be right and just. We must strive every day to make ourselves, our town, our country better. We must resist those in this country who wish to denigrate our system of government, our Constitution and our citizens. We must denounce extreme nationalism and white supremacy, while embracing diversity. To paraphrase the US Army, “America should be all she can be”. We should never lose sight of the future.


Originally published in Medium.com

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

My Bucket List Challenge, So close yet so far!

Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay




I love to watch travel and nature programs, especially those about animals and people living in far away places. I was recently thinking of the places I have been and those I would still like to visit. I guess it could be called my bucket list. Thanks to Ryan Justin and his challenge to share our dreams or our own bucket lists I am now able to put my experiences and dreams of the future into words.

Now I reminisce about my travels and experiences.

When I was younger I often thought of the many far away places I would like to visit and the many things I would love to do. I never compiled a list and I never heard of a bucket list until I was much older. Now I reminisce about my travels and experiences, both good and bad, and feel happy that I had the chance to do them. I also think about the things I didn’t do or haven’t done yet. I admire Ryan for formulating a list of lively and enthusiastic adventures and implore him to do his best to make them all happen.

Don’t ask me why, but I did it.

I have experienced living on a tropical island in Malaysia for 7 years, a dream many people have shared. It was an unforgettable experience, for the food, the weather, the people and culture, but most importantly, that’s where I met my husband. I have held a tiger cub in my arms and fed a baby panda bear an apple while holding him in my lap. I sat on the ground and played with a baby elephant, one of my most cherished accomplishments. I’ve had scorpions crawl all over my shirt while in Thailand. Don’t ask me why, but I did it. I’ve chased a huge monitor lizard and almost caught it while in the countryside of Thailand. I have hiked in the rain forests of Malaysia and loved it, even though I had trouble breathing in the thick humidity.

I spent a good deal of time eating my favorite type of food, in the country of its origin, Thailand.

I’ve traveled throughout Switzerland, Austria, France and Italy while experiencing my dream of getting to know Europe and drinking beer in the Alps. I toured China and sampled the hot spicy food of Sichuan province while visiting the panda reserve there. I spent a good deal of time eating my favorite type of food, in the country of its origin, Thailand. I taught cytology in a rural jungle hospital in Vietnam, using a microscope powered by a mirror and the sun.

These are money, time and health.

So I guess I’ve done a lot, but there is still much more that I would love to do. In my opinion, in order for anyone to accomplish the items on their bucket list you need 3 very important things. These are money, time and health. For most young people time and health are usually on their side, but money isn’t. When I was younger I did what I could on my income and as my income grew my ability to travel and do more also grew. I am retired now and I have both the time and money to cross off the remaining items on my list, but the one thing I can’t buy is starting to fail me, my health.

I don’t feel sad about it and I don’t have any regrets

I’ve always wanted to go to Machu Picchu in Peru, but I don’t think I’ll make it. Other adventures I have waiting include climbing the Great Wall of China, living in the Alps of Switzerland and trekking through the Amazon rain forest. Unfortunately I have asthma, COPD and arthritis, which precludes my participation in any activities involving high altitudes and extreme humidity. I don’t feel sad about it and I don’t have any regrets about missing out in not experiencing those adventures. I can still partake in the adventures on National Geographic.

If I could do it all over again, I would do it in a heartbeat.

I feel extremely lucky that I have done what I have done, especially when I find out that people I grew up with or went to school with never left the community where the were born and grew up. I am happy to have had the opportunities to expand my horizons as much as I have. If I could do it all over again, I would do it in a heartbeat.

You won’t regret it.

My advice to Ryan and the younger people reading this is to start checking off the items on your bucket list now, while you’re young and healthy. Take advantage of any opportunity you have to travel and experience life, before life and old age robs you of your health and motivation. You won’t regret it.

Originally published in Medium.com

Ablog about liberal politics andsocial issues