Sunday, July 4, 2010

A love letter to America, on your birthday

Dear America,
We're both adults now, and realize that blind adoration is the province of children. I know your flaws as well as your strengths. I recognize that you are complex, contradictory, cocky, and, let's be honest, a little overweight, especially in your southern regions. I also know that you are strong, and beautiful, and have a good heart, although you may not always follow it. I respect your youthful idealism, even when I don't agree with it. I sympathize when you make tough decisions, because I know that idealism is often not the best or most effective course of action.

I know that we don't always see eye to eye, nor should we. We are, after all, distinct. We will, from time to time, argue, and question one another. If we're lucky, we'll learn from it. I pray that you will listen to your dissenters with an open mind, and respond thoughtfully to them. I hope that you will take good care of your children, and raise them to take good care of themselves, to grow up wise, self-sufficient, and inventive, poets and scientists alike.

I hope that your temper does not get the best of you, because those are the days that I fear you a little, when you are frustrated beyond reason and lash out at others. I hope that you will show patience as well as strength of character. That you will learn to deal with idiots gracefully. That you will know the difference between blustering fools and genuine threats.

These sorts of love letters are a little old fashioned. Maybe it would be better just to sit quietly with a beer, eat some BBQ together, and not talk about it too much. It makes people uncomfortable to see affection sometimes, and it's a little uncool to talk like this. It's easier to make jokes at another's expense, than to tell them you really do care. No one wants to be that guy, the one who clings like a limpet and can't stop talking about the AMAZING object of his affections because, let's be honest, he has no other claim to fame. But I think I can say these things without blushing. I am, after all, an adult, and I don't let cynical teenagers slow me down these days.

As a good friend should, I promise to tell you when I think you're wrong, to praise you when I think you're at your best, and not to turn away from you when you need me. You're not always perfect. But you are my country.