by Kate Walz
Many years ago, the United States of America became known as the best country in the world during the so called “good ole days” when times were simpler in post World War II America and later by Tom Brokaw, the famed American journalist.
Today, Americans are doing some deep self analysis. They need to figure out if what they stand for is right and if what they do is enough to be deemed as the best country in the world.
After several interviews, it seems the question of whether the U.S is the best is too broad for one person to answer offhand. Each person, has their own political, economic, social and religious views that cause them to like and dislike various aspects of America. In other words, there are some things that America does really well, and other parts that it falls behind in.
“… Gun control, violence against women, unequal wages: these are world issues and strengthening other countries, strengths us,” said Ms. Reynolds, a world history teacher. “Let us not become isolated because our country does not want to participate in the world because the world has so many problems. Rather than let’s be ambassadors of change and let’s not think we are the know it alls, but rather we are the facilitators and we can help because we have the ability to do it.”
In the early 1900s, thousands of immigrants flooded into Ellis Island in search of a better life. Even before that, in the 1600 and 1700s, the Spanish, Portuguese, French, English and Dutch ventured to the sparsely inhabited Americas in search of a better economic, religious and social freedoms. America was the greener grass on the other side and a guiding light of opportunity. Thus the American Dream formed, i.e. coming here with nothing and making that into abundance and excess.
It seems in modern day America is in this constant state of excess with the constant celebrity gossip and McDonald’s. Pressing issues, like ISIS and the upcoming presidential election, don’t always grab the people’s attention in the way they should. And more importantly, the issues of climate change that are affecting us everyday – or in the very near future – are discounted.
So what is America actually good at? Here opportunity is offered in a unique way that is the American dream to anyone willing to go after it. This is especially known by people in foreign countries. “I like the creativity,” said the famed Russian president, Vladimir Putin. “Creativity when it comes to your tackling problems. Their openness, openness and open-mindedness. Because it allows them to unleash the inner potential of their people. And thanks to that, America has attained such amazing results in developing their country.” Just because America isn’t the best doesn’t mean it can’t be great.
There is no lack of issues in this age of excess either. America slipped statistically in education, industry, innovation and military. America is ranked 49th in life expectancy, 178th infant mortality,
3rd in median household income, 4th in labor force and exports. The few things it does lead in is number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of christians and defense spending (more than next 26, all of whom are allies anyway).
The idea of what makes America great is outdated. The rest of the world isn’t a monarchy anymore,and boasting that America has freedom isn’t quite as special. Other countries have caught up and surpassed it. America seems so focused on how great it was that it forgot to move forward.
“The older generation’s views differ so much from younger ones. America has the old promise of opportunity and freedom, but we haven’t necessarily upheld that,” said Emma Wood, a junior.
Does that mean that America is not the greatest anymore? By numbers, no. But there are still millions of people coming to America from all over the world both legally and illegally for the opportunity they hope to find.
To improve, America needs to reevaluate with a world perspective as it grows up. “We see ourselves so enthusiastically because we’re young and we don’t have the ancient part yet…we are a baby…once you get the perspective that we are the baby among civilizations, you have a better insight to why we are the way that we are.” Yet there is still that underlying engine, patriotism, which unifies us all.
“Every night before they go to bed, I sing with my kids,” said John Baran. “They don’t know what they are saying, but every night we sing the National Anthem.”