I’ve always struggled with my identity as an American. Was I born here? Yes. Was I raised here? Yes. Do I feel a particular attachment here? The answer is a resounding no. It’s not that I don’t appreciate life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (unless we’re talking about that Will Smith movie in which case, no, I do not like it) because I’m grateful for it.
But there’s plenty that I’m not grateful for, too. The fact that I have to actively fight for my right to marry the man who I love? Okay, well, that’s assuming I would ever get married or that there is a man who I love… unless fictional characters count in which case Bruce Wayne and I are planning an August wedding. And I was saying… oh, right, America has its perks, sure, but does that mean there’s room for improvement? Sure, there’s plenty of room for improvement.
That’s where we run into an issue. I’m down with America and all it represents, but I’m a fan of practicing what one preaches. America doesn’t really deliver on, well, a lot of its promises. I mean, unemployment being what it is, the state of the public school system, the unending issue of homelessness… the list goes on.
Two things worth noting here. 1) I’m not saying that these things don’t happen elsewhere. I recognize that there are countless other countries who have it much worse off than America. Let’s all pity them and pat ourselves on the back for our successes, right? That’s an American tendency. I know it’s “un-American” to even suggest that there is a middle ground, but ya know what, folks? There is. We’re not the worst. It’s true. We’re not exactly the best, either. Like, remember when you were in high school and you struggled in math because somebody put you in advanced math and you just didn’t care so you went along with it, even though you knew you shouldn’t be in there? No? Okay, maybe that’s just a me thing… anyways, that little anecdote was just a roundabout way of saying, much like so many of my high school report cards, “there’s room for improvement.”
2) I’m not here to place blame. Republicans and Democrats can squabble as long as they want (and we do) but the fact of the matter is, something needs changing. That should transcend party politics, but it doesn’t. Republican or Democrat, we’re all to blame. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to blame the Independents just as much as the next person, but the fact of the matter is, blaming is part of the problem.
So what do we do about this problem, confounding the nation? Well, pretty sure I’d have a Nobel Prize if I had that answer, now wouldn’t I? I mean, I’d definitely have more than 50 pity reads a week… no, I don’t have the answer that’s going to fix America. I’d be a damn fool if I even pretended that I did.
But ya know what I do have? The decency to admit that there is a problem. Maybe things would get fixed if we stopped pretending like we’re the greatest goddamn nation on this planet. I don’t think it’s such an un-American thought.