America, a Country of Ungrateful Whiners

America the beautiful

Daniel Mason

Just look at a few of the stats for America (USA):

1) We dominate a continent which is bounded on the west by the Pacific Ocean, and on the east by the Atlantic Ocean. Oh, and throw in the added benefit of the Caribbean Sea/ Gulf of Mexico to the south. To the north and south are the nominally friendly, but certainly weaker nations of Canada and Mexico.

No other nation on the planet enjoys these natural barriers against adversarial interference. We also enjoy numerous deep-water, protected harbors in all of our coastal regions, although our harbor infrastructure is kind-of second rate. Again, no other nation possesses such jewels in such abundance.

Both Canada and Mexico are major trading partners that we can, umm shall we say, coddle into giving us acceptable terms?

2) Although other countries may have major river systems (Yangtze and Yalu, Rhine, Amazon, Nile, etc.) they all pale in comparison to the mighty Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio riverine network that continuously transports giga-tons of freight throughout the eastern and midwestern USA. Sadly, again the infrastructure is in a state of rapid decay.

3) We have one of the most benign climates of any country. In most parts of the USA it is neither too hot, nor too cold, neither too dry nor too wet. Goldilocks would be happy almost anywhere even though grumbling about the weather is an American pastime.

4) We have been blessed with huge tracts of some of the most fertile land, capable of producing the most beneficial, and nutritious foods. Unfortunately our farms are dominated by monocultures that provide us with nice looking, but not very nutritious (empty calorie) diets. Oh god, how I miss those tiny wild strawberries I used to pick in New Hampshire that seemed to explode with flavor.

5) We have a natural land form from east to west, with easy passes through the Rocky Mountains, that begs for a massive rail system to easily interconnect the entire country. But, as Roger Rabbit found, a curious series of events pretty much doomed the rail system that we should have had. It happened something like this:

Almost all size-able municipalities in the US once had a public streetcar (tram) system. The automobile industry (the big 3) wanted to change over to bus systems. So, they used whatever nefarious means at their disposal (bribes, secret deals, etc.) to convince gullible city administrators to rip out the public transit rails and replace them with privatized buses. Eventually the ticket prices for the bus lines began to increase, and the service diminished. More and more people bought cars (which was the whole idea in the first place.) Passenger rail traffic vaporized, most smaller rail lines went bankrupt, and thousands of towns and small cities built around those now defunct rail lines began a death spiral that continues to this day.

Of course there is more, a lot more to it. The point is that each of those benefits listed above are a gift from nature. They are all accidents of geology. They would all exist whether humans exist or not. None of them have a damn thing to do with the exceptionalism or greatness of the American people. We just so happen to be the luckiest bunch of ungrateful whiners on this planet.

If I could have one wish for this country that I love, it would be for all of us collectively to just take a little taste of humble pie. I wish for just a little more respect for all of those masses who are not as lucky as we. Maybe, just maybe we could, if not make the world a better place, then at least stop being such a big part of the problem.

There is no need for Americans to make claims of exceptionalism, or greatness. Other nationalities know what we are, and what we stand for. Braggadocio only begets mockery or fear, depending on whether or not intimidation and force are employed. We can only acquire true friends by benefiting others in some way.

America is a truly beautiful and diverse nation. It is a plot of land that deserves an equally beautiful and diverse populace.

Mr. Stuart Lyle wrote an opinion piece on this site a few months ago entitled  George Washington foresaw the danger of political parties to a democracy. Will Senate Republicans prove him right? I believe that what Mr. Lyle described is true, but I don’t agree with the conclusions.

As I am writing this little missive, there is a peaceful, but loud protest against police brutality going on outside my window. The list of grievances is long (minority rights, inequality of the 90%, unequal protection under the law, global warming, illegal wars, “The End Justifies the Means” foreign policy, and many others.) I believe that there is a growing awareness in this country that the ideals set forth by the founding fathers have been twisted into a grotesque caricature of their original intent. It is true that those ideals were imperfect and that they have in many cases resulted in less than perfect outcomes, but the original intent was as fair and good as any in history, and that intent can be restored.

I hope that real change is finally “blowin’ in the wind”.  Thomas Jefferson wrote to James Madison “I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.” He did not specify an armed rebellion although unarmed protests can morph into something more drastic. I believe it to be a fact that substantial change will not occur by twiddling at the edges of our societal problems. “A little rebellion” is required. Joe Biden is not going to introduce fundamental change, but possibly he can twiddle around the edges until someone younger, with more substance can begin to fulfill the promises of change that Obama failed at so spectacularly. When Obama was elected it seemed as though the entire world turned to look to the United States to lead. It never happened. Obama became just another status quo politician.

Hopefully, we can evolve into the truly great nation that we can and should be; not the Trump version; no yellow ribbons, bumper stickers, false heroics, empty “thank you for your service” platitudes. America can lead again, but it must be by example, and that means we must listen. It was once said “A country gets the government it deserves.” We deserve better.

Through an unbelievable stroke of luck the US Army drafted, then trained Dan Mason as a telecommunications tech and sent him to Thailand during the Viet Nam war. So began a thirty-five year adventure, working and living overseas, to include Thailand, W. Germany, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, and China.  Those experiences helped him to see and absorb different perspectives on world events and to read behind the headlines.

One thought on “America, a Country of Ungrateful Whiners

  1. Very nicely put. I am not seeing the whining effect, but more a rising chorus “change will be ‘a comin NOW” It will play out if this is for real or just another false start like in the 60’s and early 70’s. Will the crony capitalists survive again? The swamp is not drained and the elitists of red and blue leanings still control all the strings. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The people who occupy this fantastic and absolutely unique featured land as aptly described above may have the last laugh as to its destiny.

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