I’m not sure what you’re all expecting me to write today. Seeing as it’s a rather significant holiday (Woohoo! Four-day weekend!) centered around a topic that I have repeatedly declared to be awesome in previous posts: America (or ‘Merica, for our hypothetical southern readers). Yes, today is Independence Day, the 237th birthday of our nation, commemorating when we clawed our way out of the womb of Mother England with middle fingers raised and many a powdered wig ruffled.
However, anyone that’s actually been reading this blog knows I am nothing if not a misanthropic bitchfest of a man who loathes pretty much everyone and everything. So, will today be a glorious picture painted with words (and also pictures) of the strength and wonder that is America? Or will I rag on all the stupid shit that annoys the hell out of me about this place? Well how about neither, you judgmental jagoff? Huh? You like that? I will cut your face! Dick.
We are an awesome country, no diggity, no doubt. But we’re not a perfect country. Obviously, there is no such thing and there never will be or could be. Utopia is a stupid word for stupid stupidheads and that’s all it will ever be. Even Hy-Brasil had shitty music and sank under the water. And we’re no better.
Now, now, calm your self and choke down that patriotic froth, all you twitchy little Glen Beck wannabes with teabags on your tri-corner hats and NObama bumper stickers (Ooooo, aren’t you fucking clever). You want proof? Hard numbers? Watch the first five minutes of the pilot for The Newsroom. That oughta sum that up for you. Oh, want more? How about the fact that the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development last month released it’s list of the thirty happiest countries in the world last month, based on factors like employment, income, health, and safety. We came in sixth. SIXTH. If this were the 400m Individual Medley at the 2012 Olympics, we would be Japan’s Yuya Horihata. Not even a fucking medal. And Australia would be my unwitting arch nemesis Ryan Lochte.
Yeah, Australia. A nation founded by criminals, starving Irish people, and animals so poisonous they can kill you if you think about them for too long. Yet nowadays they’re apparently super happy, surfing all day, well employed and their primary exports are shitty beer that they all actually despise and gorgeous women.
Rounding out the rest of the top five are Sweden, Canada (FUCKING CANADA, PEOPLE!), Norway, and Switzerland. That’s right, four places that are so cold in the winter that your goddamn teeth can get frostbite.
So what’s wrong? Since this is the internet, I’m assuming most of you reading this are saying (aloud, if you’re an excitable weirdo) “Why, it’s because of all the insert group of people I dislike/disagree with/think smell funny/wear different hats than I do/called me fat at the chili cook-off last month/belong to a different political party than I do/are members of the US Men’s Swim Team!” And then you’ll brush your hands together like you just solved the problem and go microwave yourself a hot pocket.
Wrong-o, fuckface! And you’re probably ugly to boot! Seriously people, how many times do we have to go over this? America. Melting pot. Many cultures and ideas. Sometimes clash. Progress. Good. Fire BAD! Seriously, fire bad. Terrible tragedy this week in Arizona. My heart goes out to the families of those brave men.
But really, come on, how come we can’t get past this as a people? We need to not only agree to disagree, but accept to disagree. Not just on the small-scale, because we all have friends we don’t always see eye to eye with (hi Jason!) and think that’s enough. But nobody seems to be able to do it on a big scale. I once read a book (I can read! It’s true! Ask P. D.!) that explained how the extremes inform the middle; how those small pockets of people always shouting stuff from the extreme ends of the spectrums of belief help inform the vast majority of moderate folks. It’s like being in a dark room and listening to the shouting of lunatics against the walls to help you find the middle where you want to be.
So yeah, I’ve got one group people on my left screaming that I’m Hitler because I eat meat and think gun ownership is okay. And some on my right screaming that I’m double Hitler because I want the gays to be allowed to marry and tighter restrictions on gun ownership. Sure I’d like them to shut up, but guess what? If I shit in one hand and wish in the other, nobody will ever let me touch their boobs again. Like, ever.
Roll your eyes and sigh wearily, but let the crazies be crazy. As long as they’re just the “yelling and posters” kind of crazy. If they start to cross over into the whole “blowing up SUV’s/committing hate crimes/calling for the violent overthrow of our democratically elected government/joining the Westboro Baptist Church” level of jackassery, you have my express permission to fuck their shit up.
Now a lot of this probably sounds like something you’ve probably heard before. But here’s what I’m going to add to it: be okay with it. If you ask me, which you did implicitly because you’re still reading this, that’s why we’re not the cheeriest bunch of assholes in the world. Because, for the most part, Americans already understand everything above. But we haven’t learned how to be okay with the compromise, with living with all kinds. We can do it, but we do it so begrudgingly, like someday the world is going to pay what it owes for us putting up with people we disagree with. It’s not. It never will. Suck it up.
If you know me personally, watch our show, or have ever seen me drunkenly singing on the sidewalk in the Meatpacking District, you may know that my favorite musical is Ragtime (Yeah, I like musicals. Check that, I fucking love musicals. Do something about it). To me, that story (and the fantastic novel of the same name it’s based on, which I read BECAUSE I CAN!) exemplify everything American, including our very history.
In the beginning, everybody’s all “Hell yeah, our country’s awesome! And will be FOREVER!” Then in as it goes on everybody is all “This shit is hard. Why are there all these different types people? This is terrible! This isn’t MY America! Can’t we just watch baseball?” But by the end, despite some things changing and some staying the same, the whole cast (even the dead characters) are going “Well, this isn’t what I first dreamed of, but it’s beautiful in it’s own way. Even in it’s imperfections, this is a truly amazing country where anyone has the chance for greatness and love!” Then that little black kid comes running out and hugs the mom and everyone sings “Wheels of a Dream” again and I cry. A little.
Our country isn’t perfect. It never will be. Aside from Helen Mirren, nothing at all ever will be. But it’s our country. My country. And I can be as proud of my country as I am aware that it can be better. We can’t just acknowledge that we live in a country where people can disagree with us, we have to learn to happy about it. Frown at the words people may say, but always smile after because they have the right to say them. Sure, America may not be the top of the worldwide list in every single facet…
And we all have to make an effort, every single day, to make it so. Even in your own small way. Because that is what can make us the best. So go, enjoy the day off. Drink some beer, grill some meat (or, if you suck, a veggie burger), and don’t just be proud to be an American. Be happy to be an America. Because, whatever statistics say, it’s way better than being a Canadian.