A good friend of mine - and a fellow blogger - drops subtle hints in her writings about people like me who, in her mind, spend too much time complaining about our great nation. She sometimes gets disgusted reading this blog. I’m unsure of her motivations, but I detect a love-it-or-leave-it mentality hovering beneath the surface of her thoughts. A less rational person would express this loudly; misunderstanding how doing so is only the sound of one mind closing. However, such is the respect I have for my blogger friend, that I ponder her words and my motivations for vociferous dissent.
On these virtual blog pages, I whine a lot about America and its citizens. Some may agree some may tire of the rant; others will leave as fast as they can click their mouse. Some few may read my offerings and wish me a healthy recovery.
Some readers may infer that I hate our country and all that is stands for. I don’t; neither do I love it. To view a complicated relationship from either extreme, as if one word can express it, is futile. Human feelings and beliefs, especially their relationships, are convoluted structures not easily summated. So, too, is my relationship with America.
Some claim ours is the best and greatest nation on earth; indeed, that is just the message I grew up on. For years, the flag-waving cheerleaders were quietly living their lives teaching this to their progeny. Then came 9/11, and the time came for unity and solidarity, and the cheerleaders took the stage.
There’s nothing wrong with that. America is a nice place to live. I’m happy enough to be here. Yet to believe that our nation cannot improve is a disservice to the memories of those who got us where we are today.
Our founding fathers, as we like to label them, called their efforts the Great Experiment. To them, their fledgling nation was a work in progress. It still is; the experiment continues. It can still fail. A representative government, guided by the people, is one of the hallmarks of our civilization. Humanity has embraced Democracy as the best system we can devise to offer freedom, happiness, and prosperity to all. Nonetheless, the system is not foolproof.
The strength of a democracy lies in its attempts at letting citizens guide the state; the weakness of this system is that it is inherently cumbersome. Likewise, the strength of a republic is to minimize the unwieldiness of the body politick while maintaining the representation of the people. The weakness of a republic is a tendency to create a political class subject to human failings of greed and self-interest, thereby undermining their effectiveness as representatives of the citizens. This balancing of forces makes up our Great Experiment, and it makes the whole structure tenuous and fragile. I try to underline this in my writings. I believe more Americans should be aware how weak is our grasp on civilization. We might treat it with the respect it deserves.
America gives me freedom to think and express myself to the extent that it harms no one. It would be unpatriotic to ignore this freedom. By refusing to accept political status quo, I keep the dialogue alive to the degree I’m capable, refreshing the debate and perhaps forcing others not to take our great nation for granted. By exercising my political freedoms through disagreement, I show respect for our country. Our experiment has come a long way in a short time, but only because the discussion continues. If either political party manages to silence the opposition, democracy will fall. I’m going to do my very best to avoid that.