Our constitution confers rights that should be available to every human being, but in many parts of the world are not. We can speak our minds without worrying someone from law enforcement will come in the middle of the night and take us away from our families, who will never see us again. We can write what we want free of government censorship. We can be who we want, with laws that do their best to prohibit discrimination, regardless of who you are.
We have avenues to succeed the rest of the world is jealous of. Just look at me. I came from nothing, a poor kid from Bronx housing projects, and became the national president of the country’s most prestigious journalism organization. Many other Americans, whether they be white or of color or transgender, have overcome adversity to succeed.
We are the most dynamic, adventurous and responsive country in the world, according to a ranking by U.S. News and World Report. We export more food than anyone in the world, which means we have a large hand in attempts to keep our friends, allies, and trade partners fed.
We are a generous people. Americans — and these are average people — gave nearly $450 million to charities in 2019, the last year statistics were available from the National Philanthropic Trust. That’s more than the gross domestic product of five countries.
We rally around each other during times of devastating catastrophe. The Oregon District shooting? Strangers showed up at the scene of that tragedy, one that tore at our community’s soul, with a simple message to slightly temper the heartache — “I am here for you.”
Some people reading this won’t like the Shangri-La nature of this column and point out I’m only pointing out the good and glossing over the bad. But isn’t focusing on the negative all the time exhausting? About half of Americans say they’re stressed out and worried and almost one in three say they’re angry, according to a recent Gallup poll.
We all need to chill a bit.
Are we perfect? Not even close. But the magic of America is that most of us realize that. We know there are those less fortunate, those who hurt, those consumed with daily struggles we can’t even imagine. As a people, we try our best to be just a little better, despite our human failings.
The other day a woman, on a social media site, said she was in danger of not being able to get to work because she didn’t have any money for gas for her car. She left her phone number in the event someone could help. I offered but by the time I did she had what she needed.
That’s the America we should celebrate today. The America that opens its arms and takes care of its own — that part of America we should all be proud of.
So today, as you’re around the grill or having a cold adult beverage or just hanging out with the people you love, remember how fortunate we all are to be living here. And that living here with whatever warts you perceive is far, far better than living anywhere else.
Today, on our day of independence, this is the America I choose to revel in.
Ray Marcano’s column regularly appears on these pages. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org