Thursday, July 09, 2009

What I like about the U.S.A.

My super brilliant Aunt recently wrote to me:

Ben[jamin], no offense, but in my memory I have absolutely no recollections of ever being engaged in conversation with you, either personally or online, in which you have ever had anything uplifting to say about this country [the United States].

Here goes.

What I like about the United States of America:

1. Some citizens whose take on things in general is by and large uber brilliant: Barack Obama, Megan Ann Jones Ady, Jim Wallis, Brian McLaren, Martin Luther King Jr., Dave Sellers, Jim Henderson, Helen DeWitt, Helen Mildenhall, Russell Roman, Paul Farmer, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Rhonda, ... I could go on.

2. America produced the fellow who has made the *only* decent translation of the Christian Bible into modern English, thus doing a huge service to the hundreds of millions of English speakers the world over.

3. America produced the fellow (Bobby Henderson) who founded the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

4. America produced the two richest and most generous philanthropists in history: Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

5. Buproprion was invented under the auspices of an American corporation (I'm not sure if the person who invented it, Nariman Mehta, was American or not. His last name sounds rather Indian to me. Not that there aren't a bunch of Indian immigrants, for instance:)

6. I'm pretty sure Hemant Mehta, author of "I sold my soul on Ebay", is American.

7. Ebay was started by ... a French born Iranian person. Oops. never mind.

8. Google (on whose software this blog runs) was started by an American and a Russian born immigrant, in America.

9. Craigslist was started by an American.

10. James Taylor is American.

These are all positive things about America. But ... something's missing here. I'm not super emotionally engaged.

Maybe it's that none of these things strike me as quintessentially American. Maybe it's that I just have spent too many years emphasizing the negative. Maybe I should finally read Tocqueville's book. I *do* have an inordinately difficult time not casting every single positive thing I think of about the U.S. in a cynical, sarcastic, or negative light.

Ok--see, like this for instance. Jody Williams, who is an American, won the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the campaign she worked for, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. She and ICBL did uber brilliant work, and in 1997 they saw the signing of the Mine Ban Treaty, which now has 156 signatories, and has without a doubt prevented tens of thousands of ordinary people from being killed or having their hands, arms, legs, feet, faces, etc. blown off.

I'm totally moved by that. But the problem is that you can't really say that without pointing out that the U.S. is one of the 37 nations which has *not* signed the Mine Ban Treaty. We've got some fairly interesting company on that list, including: Iran, China, Cuba, Burma, Libya, Pakistan, Syria, and North Korea.



brooke said...

yes, you and i agree on many points. jody williams was also not given a lot of media coverage for what she did either. *sigh*

and peterson. yes, i agree with you on him too.. sorta. i <3 the NRSV and it is my default... i <3 the KJV for the way it sounds.. and the message for it's simplicity. the devotional (that i hardly ever use) is based on the message. my pastor introduced me to eugene.

btw, i'm glad that buproprion is helpful for you.


Benjamin Ady said...


thank you! The thing about the bupropion, I've found, is that it works so much better when I take it consistently, on schedule, without fail =).

I used to like the KJV as well, but I can't do it anymore. Of course I can't really do the Message anymore either, so it's all a tossup, perhaps.

yes on *sigh*. =)