America the Paradox

I truly believe that America is a great place. I’ve lived overseas for much of the last twenty years, but when I go back home to visit, I’m always reminded of just how amazing America is. From its development to its beauty to its generous and kind people. Americans of every color, age, and belief have blessed me in one way or another.

But, of course, America has displayed many warts through the centuries. It’s never been a perfect place, but it is a grand experiment which has succeeded on many levels. It has wrestled with a tortured and tainted past and has made amazing strides. It continues to offer the greatest amount of liberty possible even as it currently struggles with itself and the behemoth of a government that it created which produces an ever present tension with the liberty that it tries to preserve.

And that is perhaps what makes the United States of America so unique. The constant struggle. The pulling left and right. The tightrope of freedom. The uncomfortable self-righteous walk abroad, carrying a big stick. A pluralistic society struggling with deep-seated individualism which brings about endless debate, name-calling, and bureaucratic stagnation. A country with boundless energy, which struggles not to use it. A country with a moral ideal, which tries to downplay it with secularism. A people who talk grand, believe in moral righteousness and exceptionalism, yet idly sit watching sports on the weekend. A generous people who become lazy in their giving. A good people, who want to help the world but who wonder if they haven’t already done enough.

It’s in these great paradoxes where America’s greatness truly lies because at its core, America is still a free nation, tolerant of different points of view. It, as a nation, is a microcosm of the stagnant congress. We are both sides of a coin, and, yes, sometimes that can be frustrating. We are the ‘heads’ that says ‘go’ and the ‘tails’ that says ‘no’. We can’t make up our mind, and when we do, we change it back.

But the alternative to this back and forth, uneven maneuvering is, in my estimation, even scarier – being at the whim of only one side of a coin – a pawn with a tyrant’s heel at our throat.

Perhaps we should celebrate the slow-moving nature of American life a little more. It’s what makes us unique, a standard bearer of differing views, a weigher of ideas, a struggler of philosophy.

But even with all of its negatives, America still stands as a beacon which cannot be ignored. Its still something to be proud of.

 

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