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Thoughts On The Birth of a Country

 |  life

Perhaps appropriate for July 4th:

Despite everything, despite the rampant commercialism and questionable policies and idiotic politicians, I still think that this country is one of the greatest in the world. Two hundred years ago, three great experiments were forged in the crucible of a single revolution: a Constitutional democracy, a capitalistic economic system, and a liberal immigration policy.

Not to say that there weren’t forerunners of these, of course; certainly, Greece had pioneered democracy many hundreds of years before, and the economic system also depended on the emergence of the industrial revolution, and whatnot. But the combination was unique.

Walk around in California, and you’ll see many amazing things: a tech and biotech industry which, even hobbled by the .crash, is testimony towards the effectiveness of a capitalistic system. Would consumer electronics and the World Wide Web have come about as quickly, progressed as speedily, if the engine of capitalism was not driving it?

Every possible culture is here, and I am the richer for it in ways that I probably cannot even enumerate or realize. Further, while the Constitution gets modified and stretch and twisted, it nonetheless is amazing that a country could begin with the presumption that there are unassailable human rights; that is, the country began by voluntarily limiting its powers.

More than anything, the country lucked out with a background and cultural patterns that have given us the chance to build something amazing here. If I’m walking down the street and see some soldiers, I don’t have to be afraid. There has never been an internal military takeover of the country, and it says something to the cultural patterns that we’ve grown up with that such an occurrence is not worrisome[1]. This security, this basic level of trust in our courts and military and people, has enabled us to concentrate on other things.

With fortune comes responsibility; so, what role can America play in helping make the world a better place? There are so many things to improve on… certainly, there is inequality and strife within and without. It is so hard to find politicians of what America should be… the politics in the past twenty years seem to be more about preservation of American power than about how America should lead, not bully, other nations into improving the world situation. Perhaps a politican with such a clear view would be unelectable, but I am not that cynical, not yet.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone.

[1] Ashcroft notwithstanding.


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