Friday, February 10, 2012

The Great American. . . Conundrum

Ugh!...I’ve been chewing on some serious writer’s block recently. Last week I sat down and wrote down a blog entry that was nearly a thousand words only to delete it all because it was barely coherent and jumped around aimlessly. Hopefully I’ll be able to lay out my thoughts a little better this go and maybe even say something that'll make you stop and think.
Today’s topic: The United States of America. I read a post from a friend’s blog a while back which got me thinking on my own views of the country I live in. When I was little I saw America as the greatest country in the world, as a teenager I saw it as the most corrupt, hypocritical nation in existence. Nowadays, I know that the truth lies somewhere down the middle.
Anyone who grew up in the States has learned in school of the great good that the U.S. has done since its declaration of independence in 1776. We won our freedom from the subjugation of Britain, fought against slavery in the civil war, tamed the west, were victorious in not one but two world wars, and now leading the fight on terror worldwide.
However, there is a dark side to all of these glorious conquests that have, on the most part, been ignored by history. For instance, the guerilla warfare the fledgling nation used against the British in the Revolutionary War is similar to what terrorist groups now use in the Middle-East today. When I was in the American South, I heard a completely different take on the Civil War. In this version, the South had been hammered by multiple laws that restricted rights and trade for years and that slavery was just the straw that broke the camel’s back. Supposedly, Robert E. Lee, later to become the most noted generals in the confederacy, followed the law and released his slaves when the law was passed but Ulysses S. Grant, later general in the Union army and president of the United States, kept his slaves until authorities demanded the he released them or face charges. Horrible atrocities were committed against the First Nations as they were pushed from their ancestral lands and forced into reservations where treaties were constantly made up and broken by the U.S. The First World War was pointless for all countries involved, while during the Second World War, our allies called for our full support over and over but it wasn’t until we were attacked that we decided to get our hands dirty. And during the cold war, Korea and Vietnam were proxy battles with the Soviet Union.
Now before you go all out on how horrible and wrong this country is, let’s try taking a step back and look at it from a worldwide view. In comparison to other countries such as Great Britain, Russia and China we’re pretty average on the good/evil meter. The British held the second largest empire in history (that’s not counting the oceans and seas they claimed) and subjugated everyone they came in contact with. During the Soviet era of Russia, Stalin created work camps called gulags where around fourteen million people were sent to and somewhere between seven hundred thousand to millions died. And finally, Mao’s regime in China took over Tibet and ravaged Nepal when the government was coming into its own.
Once again these are just a few examples. Every country around the world has both good and bad, it’s just human nature. The most we can do is take an active part in the happenings of our countries. Vote, let your voice be heard, do what you think will help your homeland progress and become a better nation. As for me, even though it is far from perfect and there are many things in my country’s laws and history that I do not agree with or support, I can honestly say I am proud to be a citizen of the United States of America. It is the place where I was born and where the many of my ancestors immigrated to find opportunity they couldn’t elsewhere. 

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