If you’ve ever traveled to other countries, I’m sure it has occurred to you just how fortunate we are to live in America. Now, that is not a statement of arrogance or false pride . . . it is simply an observation. I have only traveled to a few other countries, and as a “country girl,” haven’t even traveled to very many of the larger metropolitan areas of our own country.
It is not difficult, however, at least to be aware of all of the poverty, despair, hopelessness, and violence that abound all around the world, even here in America. In an age of instant information, we are so frequently bombarded with images of violence and tragedy, that it is easy to become complacent.
Having witnessed first-hand a bit of the devastation and despair that is a daily part of life for many people around the world, it certainly seems to me that, of all the places I could possibly live, America is by far the best place of all!
In America, we at least have opportunities to create our own destiny. Having grown up in a small, rural community in mid-Michigan, it never occurred to me that we were “poor.” I didn’t realize just how little we really had in the way of material possessions until I went away to college and met other students from wealthy families. It was overwhelming, at times, to realize what it must have been like to grow up having a huge, gorgeous house, beautiful clothing, and parents who drove expensive cars. That was a lesson in economics!
My observations about America do not come from a position of wealth and privilege. I worked for a few years for our country court system where I was the Education Director for a program for people who had been incarcerated to complete their education. During those years I worked with students who were third-generation drug addicts; I worked with a young couple who had lost their children as a result of an explosion in their little hovel of a home while they were cooking Meth.
Some of my students were in their mid-forties and fifties, and all they had known was a life of hopelessness and violence. One of my students eventually took his own life because of the abuse he was experiencing, and he didn’t tell anyone about it until it was too late.
For me, there is no wistful, unrealistic vision of America as a place that is perfect and everyone is happy, healthy, and safe. This is a country filled with ordinary people, but because of our history, we have opportunities to accomplish extraordinary things. I pray that we do not lose those opportunities because we choose to look the other way, or because we only focus on the imperfections we see all around us.
I don’t know about you . . . . but I believe America is still the best country on earth. God has blessed this country, in spite of our failures and mistakes, because our foundation is built on God's truth. This Independence Day, I choose to thank God for the opportunity to live in a country where I am free to live my life according to the beliefs that I hold.
God bless America!