Saturday, July 5, 2008

Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th of July to everyone. It feels great to celebrate this holiday on US soil.

This is one of my favorite patriotic pictures. It is of 6 US Marines raising the flag at the Battle of Iwo Jima during WWII. And, of the 6 Marines who were raising the flag, 3 died in the battle: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Iwo_Jima

Today, America is a great place to live. Yes, we have our work cut out for us to fix healthcare, the credit crunch, education, raise the value of the dollar, to secure victory in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a host of other issues - but despite these issues, this is still a country where anything is possible and these problems are solvable.

I was particularly proud to be a Californian and an American when I was on my way home from the SFO airport on July 1. On July 1, a new law went into effect banning talking on cell phones while driving. And sure enough, the law was being enforced as police officers were pulling over many offending drivers and ticketing them. This is a great and much-needed law and I am happy to see it being enforced. Not only that, Californians overwhelmingly support this law and they are willing to abide by it. This is the greatness of America: just laws are passed, they are firmly yet fairly enforced, and people follow these laws.

I spent 4th of July hanging out at home as I was still recovering from my jet lag and a small sickness. I watched an inspirational historical documentary of Revolutionary War and how we grew from a small band of rag-tag patriots into a professional army to win our independence in 1783. Then, my aunt and uncle came over and we discussed life in India, life in the US, and what the US needs to do to address its problems. It was a low key 4th of July but a good one nonetheless.

I'd like to leave you with a nice patriotic song, God Bless the USA:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RssIN3ustUw. Happy 4th of July!

5 comments:

rpolitte said...

It was great to see soliders and fellow American civilians celebrating the 4th yesterday here in Heidelberg.

It reminds me of how lucky we are and what a great place we come from. There was such incredible spirit in seeing people from so many different backgrouns celebrate the 4th... that's what makes America great. The song says it all :)

Vishnu (your cousin) said...

Reasons why America is great:
- Forced one race into slavery
- Almost wiped out another race
- Is the only country to use the bomb in a war, while simultaneously wiping out several civilian ladened cities in Europe (after victory was imminent)
- For a majority of its history, treated minority races as inferior. And even now, while a lot of the blatant discrimination has been taken care of, the fact that it has become institutionalized is ignored.
- Supported one dictator after another, while aiding in the squashing of freedom movements all around the world.
- George W. Bush, Iraq
- Vietnam
- Tacit support of worldwide poor working conditions
- Support of union busting and corporations that do that (ie, Walmart)
- Consuming an inordinate amount of natural resources (per capita) as compared to every nation.

Americans are great- great at perpetrating violence and oppression around the world, while patting themselves on the back for being great world citizens.

Ravi Ragahvan said...

Responses to Vishnu's comment:

1) Can a country be great and yet imperfect? I think yes.

2) Which country do you think is 'great'?

3) Is there nothing that you are proud of about America? What are some things you like about America?

It's good to acknolwedge the problems and devise solutions to them. But it's also good to recognize the achievements of a nation. Spending time abroad has taught me that whatever problems there might be here, there are still more positives than negatives.

vishnu said...

1) Can a country be great and yet imperfect? I think yes.

- America is far from great (no country is). They systematic and historical transgressions that have been perpetrated by this country are too significant. Relishing in its greatness is a slap in the face of all those who have been persecuted in its path.

2) Which country do you think is 'great'?

- See above. No country is great. As a general rule, I find patriotism and pride in ones country to be foolish. It serves as an opiate, in allowing tacit agreement to the policies in the action. Plus, great is such a nebulous term.

3) Is there nothing that you are proud of about America? What are some things you like about America?

- It definitely has dome some good. In its history, the good it has done is far negated by the overwhelming bad it has done. Until we make up adequately (and we are far from it) from the mistakes in the past, I think it is insulting to relish in “goodness of America”. You reap what you sow. There has not been much of that in this country. Too many people are to willing to forget the past.

“It's good to acknolwedge the problems and devise solutions to them. But it's also good to recognize the achievements of a nation. Spending time abroad has taught me that whatever problems there might be here, there are still more positives than negatives.”

Positives for the rich. Positives for the haves. The problems you seen overseas are propagated from a world that profited of the plunder of imperialism. Is America great because it is noble and promotes innovation. Or is the western world great because it raped the eastern world/Africa/South America of its natural resources and its dignity. I tend to believe the latter.

Ravi Ragahvan said...

I will agree that 'great' is a nebulous term. You can say that every country is great or that no country is great. And it depends on who you ask.

I find that patriotism and pride motivate me to try to make my home a better place. Patriotism and pride are not synonomous with tacit approval with everything that our country has, is, and will be doing. I am eager to cast of this administration because I want the country to be better. There have been strong periods in this country's history and there have been weak periods. Pride is about being proud of the strong periods and wanted to get out of the weak periods.

Of course there are things I don't agree with that the US has done - essentially most things on your list. Obviously slavery was wrong, our treatment of Native Americans was wrong, our use of the atomic bombs was wrong, I am not a supporter of Bush and I did not support the invasion of Iraq, etc. etc. With regards to slavery for example, yes, while it is shameful that slavery existed for hundreds of years, why can't I be proud of the abolitionists who helped to get rid of it? Are those people not American?

Lastly, the problems of the developing world are not solely the result of the West. Take India for example. The British did not impose the unjust caste system on Indians. Indians have been propagating that system on their own for thousands of years. Actually, when the British came to India, they outlawed a sexist custom like Sati, in which widows jumped into their husband's funeral pyre. Yes, the British did loot the treasury and I do feel that that was wrong. But my point is that not every problem was created by the British. The West does have a history of subjugating the weaker races but in truth almost every race has done this. Didn't Africans enslave their own prior to the West's arrival? Didn't the Egyptians use slaves to the pyramids?

When we stray from the path, as we have in the last 8 years, we need to get back on the path. I define patriotism as pride in the orignial path.