Thursday, June 4, 2009

How Great Thou Aren't

If there is one thing that most of us have heard from the time we realized we were "Americans" to this very day, it is that we are living in the "greatest" country in the world. I've always bristled at that notion because it seems to be such a shallow idea. The term GREAT is tossed around so easily anyway. A great country, a great hamburger, a great play, a great day... A truly great apple, a great date, a great cup of coffee.

OK, let's say that we need to have a greatest country on Earth, like the "Greatest show on Earth" or the idea that "I am the greatest." (Ali was the best i ever saw) that begs the question, what does a country have to do or be to fit the bill? It's reasonable to assume it easily provides the basic essentials. Democracy, autonomy, health care, education, and social justice would certainly have to be on the menu.
Wait...this just in...we here in the U S of A do not all have health care, and do not have equal access to education. Aside from the number of homeless on the streets, the gun violence statistics, and the splintered pieces of the American Dream lying all over the place thee days, we're now faced with the possibility of states like California going bankrupt. Seems to me that a truly great country would provide for it's own on every level. Further, it seems to me that such a country, if it were to exist, would have the will to care for and educate it's citizens.
Right now, in all fifty states educators are being laid off, budgets are slashed, kids are demonstrating, walking out of classrooms, making signs to support their teachers( now if that doesn't debunk the stereotypes of high school students, what does?) and wondering why nobody seems to care.
Like Bill Mahr says: New Rule!
New Rule: Don't say you are living in the greatest country in the world. You aren't. I don't know which is the greatest, nor do I care. But I do know that the old adage that says that the true measure of a culture is how it treats those most vulnerable fits well here. The greatest country in the world would be one that values education and acts accordingly. Not just talks a good game. It's laughable that the USA can't find the political will to provide for a sound education. If ever there were a national security issue, this is it.

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