“This land is your land, this land is my land,…."

“This land is your land, this land is my land,…."

Rick Olson
July 1, 2019

At this time of the year around the 4th of July, we Americans rally around the flag and appropriately take pride in our country and patriotism. The United States is a great country. Every time I return home from my frequent travels, I marvel at just how lucky we are to live where we do.

Both sets of my grandparents immigrated from Finland to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan around 1890 and 1910 respectively. They sought a better life for themselves and their children. Despite hardships borne by them, their children and my generation, we have had the opportunity to live the American Dream. We can only wish that all around the world could have similar opportunities in the countries they live in.

The United States is exceptional. Most countries are “nations” because of some common language, ethnicity, religion, etc. The United States spans all of those, but not because of those, but rather began as an idea - the idea that we could be a self-governing people, with checks and balances in our U.S. Constitution to prevent the concentration of power of kings. The Founding Fathers were very aware of the dangers of concentrations of power in either one individual or in the masses, understanding that a pure democracy can be as much a tyrant over minorities as a monarch. They founded a republic, a limited government with numerous checks and balances, further bolstered by the Bill of Rights, which guarantee both economic and individual liberty.

Our country has thrived through the years after 1776, despite many trials and tribulations. We have not always done the right thing, but people around the world still think of the United States as “the shining city on the hill”, as Ronald Reagan phrased it.

In the past few years, our country’s reputation around the world has become a bit tarnished as we have become excessively polarized. But, I have faith in this country to pull itself together to address the serious issues of our times: changing climate, immigration policy, the national debt, social security, health care, trade policy, and national defense and privacy threatened by hacking and big data, just to name a few.

And, failing that, we can always fall back on the quote attributed (probably wrongly) to Winston Churchill, “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.

Enjoy these summer days, in the best country in the world!


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