Love is patient, kind, and charitable. It sticks through good times and bad. If you love someone, you may have a frank word with them, try to change them, occasionally yell at them. But you *never* disrespect them. Never. Once in a while I remember I love my country, and how much. Tonight was one of those times.
I ate dinner tonight at the local Vietnamese restaurant. It was hard to get a seat because a couple local families - about 25-30 people in each - were sitting in there, in long banks of tables put together. They were getting a start on the July 4th Independence Day holiday. They were talking about the coming fireworks, making sure the kids ate their Pho, and talking about daily business. There were some elderly folks, middle aged folks, and families with young kids. All of them over the age of 30 spoke English with strong Vietnamese accents. It kind of brought it home to me what a great country we have and how lucky we are to be here. We fool around on our bicycles. Most of us have nice cars and homes, out of our own volition. We have jobs that pay well, where we do stuff. We have personal economic and political autonomy. If we want to be Mr. Plastic Fantastic we can, and if we want to let our freak flag fly, or live in a cabin in West Virginia, we can. This really struck me as I was looking at the Vietnamese families that surrounded us - our local Vietnamese community emigrated in the mid-70's, they were boat people. They risked everything to have freedom. Maybe they take it for granted, but I doubt it. You don't get together to have a celebration feast like that unless it means something to you. Man that's awesome, seeing those new Americans getting down on the Nation's Birthday. I'm glad they're here. The pie's big - we can afford to share it because in our system, every new person who comes here is expected to help make an even bigger pie. It's a tough system in a way, it makes you be strong like an Irish matriarch, but it seems to work.
It's a great country we live in friends. I guess she has some flaws; maybe we oughtta have a couple words with her about it. But today is her birthday, we can talk tomorrow, once she's enjoyed her annual day in the sun.
In that spirit, have some straight up hooo - rah.
And here, if you like your love of country cut with a little bit of Tequila and maybe some stuff The Man frowns on, have a little Stevie Ray doing the National Anthem:
Need to put a little funk in your trunk? Have some Ray Charles, singing "America the Beautiful."
I don't think it matters how you love this country, as long as you get your love on and try to appreciate how good you have it, and answer if she calls. I don't know if it's the best place in the world; all I know is it's better for me than any other place I've lived, and there's no way I could have the good life I have anywhere else that I've been. Do I have some beefs with how things are run from time to time? Sure. But like anybody else I love, I'm not going to get all spiteful about it. We're going to have a quiet word or two, maybe I'll write a note or two about it, but I can't afford momentary lapses in her behavior to affect the overall relationship. When you get right down to it, she gives a lot more good stuff to us than we give back.
Thanksgiving Day is nice, it's a great holiday, but this is my real day of thanks.
I don't know about you, but I think I'm going to go and spend Independence Day riding my bike, having some fun with my family, drinking a High Life, and counting my blessings.