Last night I watched the HBO documentary, "Citizen USA: A 50 State Road Trip". Filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi visited naturalization ceremonies in all fifty states, asking new citizens why they chose to renounce their birth country and become US citizens. It was a short, easy to watch film that made you realize: we take so much for granted here!
Answering questions like 'what do you like most about living in the USA' brought similar answers from many, most of them along the theme of FREEDOM. The freedom to show affection in public, acess to education, the ability to walk down the street and express your opinion without the fear of being arrested. One woman liked the 911 emergency line, another mentioned abundant clean water, one man doesn't fear being openly gay here. Many mentioned the freedom to work hard and have the opportunity to buy a home.
One man mentioned walking down the street and seeing little booties on a dog. He asked the owner why the dog had booties, and the owner explained that the 'sidewalks are hot'. This man said into the camera: 'in my country, the humans are treated worse than the dogs are in America.'
Equally interesting were the answers regarding 'what don't you like in America?' Overwhelmingly it was that so many Americans complain all the time. They complain about little things that really don't matter. And how true is that? I hear people complain about having to walk too far from their car to the store, or that the movie they want to see isn't showing at a convenient time; I hear kids complaining they have to do the dishes or they don't have a TV in their bedroom. As I get older, I find myself complaining a lot less and letting the little (perceived) annoyances slide by. Over the weekend I visited with a friend who just returned from his first trip to China. He was stunned by the overwhelming polluted air, the rotted teeth of so many Chinese, the overcrowding in the streets and the slave-type labor in the factories. He kept saying, 'we have it so good in this country' -- and we do.
Yesterday was the Fourth of July, the annual day to celebrate the freedom we can easily take for granted. Take a few moments every day to be thankful you are a US citizen, and all the benefits that come with it.