I know that’s an unpopular opinion to have, but it’s true: America is *not* the greatest country in the world. Sure, we’re one of the most intimidating and powerful countries militarily, and that’s certainly important for our credibility and influence in the world. But I’m sorry to say that in many other arenas, we don’t quite measure up.
Every time a patriotic holiday rolls around, bros fight each other to say “AMERICA” the loudest, while wearing t-shirts that joke about how we’re “Back to Back World War Champs.” Did we all forget that allies were a thing, or do I just have a selective memory? Can we calm down with the overbearing pride for a second and get real?
There are many, many areas where we are not “the greatest.” For f*’s sake, we aren’t even the only America. The United States (in general) is so full of itself that most people seem to forget that there’s an entire other continent with America in the name and other groups of people who also consider themselves “Americans.”
The United Nations recently visited the U.S. and declared we’re lagging behind in human rights for a number of reasons, like the “unprecedented hostile stereotyping of women” in the election, the increasingly restrictive legislation on reproductive rights that many states are passing, a lack of government mandated parental leave, and much more. All of the issues they noticed are particularly affecting poor women, minority women, migrant women, LBTQ women, women with disabilities, and older women.
We’ve got plenty else to work on. As a whole, we’re not very inclusive, and many people are still very culturally ignorant or outright racist. We also have the highest levels of income inequality and wealth inequality, plus the worst-rated social safety net among 10 similarly developed nations like Australia, Canada, France, Germany and the United Kingdom.
As a white, middle class female, I am lucky I haven’t dealt with most issues that many (United States of) Americans face. In that regard, I am grateful to be an American. But when people ask me if I’m “proud” to be an American, the answer gets a bit trickier. Some days, when people get it right and go out of their way to pay it forward, or when I see smart people making advancements in science and medicine because they genuinely care about helping others, the answer is yes.
Other days, like when it becomes clear that we have problems with police brutality, when I’m about to lose my goddamn mind over the fact that white male politicians STILL think it’s somehow their business to decide what women can legally do with their bodies, or every time Donald Trump opens his mouth, the answer is “not today.”
Slowly, but surely, I see the tides changing. I see people my age becoming socially aware, helping others, inspiring themselves to achieve greater things. I believe that we can get there, and become the greatest country in the world. But we aren’t there yet, and we’ve got a long way to go first.