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    « What do Oprah Winfrey and Wayne LaPierre Have in Common? | Main | Christmas Gifts, 2012 »

    An Open Letter to Mary Ann Rasmussen Morrison: Five Reasons to Love America


    “I'm looking forward to a column on what's not wrong with America -

    Tired of reading the same old negative crap all the time.”

    -- Mary Ann Rasmussen Morrison


    You won’t find the above quote in Bartlett’s, nor even on one of those ubiquitous internet quote sites with the overly cute names, like BrainyQuote or The Quote Garden. That’s because Mary Ann Rasmussen Morrison isn’t famous. She’s just a person—and a just person—who seemingly reached her limit on Christmas Day when, for once, she only wanted something different, something uplifting and, maybe, peaceful.  So she posted her thought on Facebook, attaching it to some news item or opinion put up by one of the moderators at Coffee Party USA.

    We at the Coffee Party care much about many things, addressing numerous concerns from various perspectives. But we do sometimes get rather fascinated with the sound of our own voices and, while working to engage a growing audience, we sometimes forget to just sit back and breathe.  (Guilty, by the way, as charged.) Ms. Morrison’s plea seemed to me a request that we do just that.

    So I am.

    She’s right, of course. It’s incredibly easy to point out the negative, to engage in endless ideological debate. We’re not a perfect country, certainly, but it does seem like those of us that want to make things better spend an inordinate amount of time on what’s wrong and how to fix it, rather than on what’s right and how to preserve it. (And, as a moderate/conservative, the idea of preserving the good hits home to me….)

    So here you go, Mary Ann. Here are five reasons (among many, many I could have chosen) why I love this country:

    • We get to say what we want. We often forget how truly special it is to be able to do that, how, in many, many places around the world, you simply…can’t. In our country words matter: they change people’s lives, they change society. It’s where people can “have a dream,” where they can ask what “you can do for your country.” It’s where everyone’s voice matters. Even those who don’t like what they hear will share that willingness to let it be said.
    • We have vast expanses of beautiful land and no one is all that far away from that beauty, whether mountains, lakes, rivers, or deserts. For all that we care about preserving our natural resources (and we should), the fact that we have so many worth preserving is an amazing blessing. We have climates that mimic nearly every place in the world, from arctic frost to sun-deviled sands. We have flora and fauna that never ends. More of us, I think, would do well to enjoy it as much as we worry about it.
    • We have a country dotted with brilliant scholars, and amazing colleges and universities, many the envy of the world. We have Northwestern and Stanford, Harvard and Berkeley, Dartmouth and Michigan. We have Penn State and the United States Naval Academy, Reed College and Duke. At all of them have caring and thoughtful academics building the next generation of thought leaders in business, science, and the humanities. Thirty graduates of the University of Chicago have won Nobel Prizes, and the same is true of MIT; Harvard boasts sixty. (Only Cambridge has more.)
    • We are a place where dreams are dreamed—and sometimes come true, where a geek in a garage can build Microsoft or a man with a hamburger stand can build McDonald’s. Where leaders and businessmen can live Horatio Alger lives and talented athletes can win gold medals. American is a place of aspiration and stubbornness, often combining in just the right combination to produce greatness.
    • And, finally, we have a Constitution that is the envy of the world, built with surety and flexibility, amendable, yet rock-solid, one that opens the door to debates of all kinds yet still provides us the moral and legal foundation to build an economic and social powerhouse the likes of which I doubt even our founders could ever have imagined.

    For all that we’re not, there’s so much that we are, so much that still makes America a place to want to be.

    Oh, and there’s one more thing, Mary Ann… We should love America because people like you don’t forget to remind us of these things now and then.  Thanks for the wakeup call.


    Michael Charney


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    Reader Comments (3)

    Well said Sir. I particular like thought #2. I have been lucky enough to hike on trails throughout the United States, enjoying the boundless natural beauty you wrote of. Recently, while standing amidst an old growth forest in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge I had a truly [quite literally] inspired thought. We should establish a program that would bus children, especially those from the inner cities to National Parks where they would be introduced to the wonders of nature and educated as to how we, as humans have the power to destroy or preserve them. What better way to teach stewardship of the environment then to introduce a child to the tree they might be killing because they chose to print needlessly, or the wetlands that will disappear if we don't better regulate industries that pollute?

    Empathy is best learned by introducing people to those who are less fortunate and/or who cannot defend themselves; and our nations green spaces fit both those descriptions. They currently suffer at the hands of those who put profit over the welfare of our fragile ecosystems; but a program such as the one I described would help ensure that ours was the last generation to make that shortsighted and inevitably self-destructive choice. Just wanted to throw that out there.

    December 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDan Arosnon

    I like your list and want to add one of my favorite things about the USA. Americans have faith in our governmental system. With all the rhetoric and complaints flying around you might be tempted to protest this statement, but actions speak louder than words. When Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the presidency, there was no coup; no civil war; no armed rebellion. Instead there was an orderly transition with no suppression of the losing party. Eight years later Barack Obama was elected president.

    December 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Okland

    The really good news is that a lot of Americans have seen, or are beginning to see, past these myths of American exceptionlism and are more rational about and capable of returning justice, equality and opportunity to this nation.

    December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRascals Veda

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