By Ted Farley

Recent polls have shown a 20% decrease in respondents who are “proud” to be an American since 2001.

The respondents were not asked if they’re proud of every action, person or policy.  They were asked about being an American.  In the context of global politics, their negative perceptions show a tremendous lack of understanding and vision.

Nothing in our world is perfect.  Anyone with children can attest that they all require different types of care and attention, but we love them equally regardless if some are more challenging.  We nurture their expression and celebrate their individuality, even when it occasionally rubs us the wrong way, in service to the bigger picture of family. 

Many are failing to recognize how this family approach applies on a national scale. Whether we agree with current events or not, the fact that we are free to express those agreements/disagreements is a concept rooted in America. Were it not for our Revolution, the world would still be ruled by monarchs. Our system set an example which showed how such a thing could be possible and sustainable, and many countries followed suit; today, much of our planet is run democratically. That in itself should be a source of considerable pride.

Do prideless Americans really think there are better alternatives? Most countries are either theocracies, dictatorships, or democracies. I have to assume that they wouldn’t prefer the theocracies or dictatorships, so we’ll remove them right away. Of the democracies that remain, do these people assume there is no dissent in those places? No two people think alike, so in what fantasy world is there a country with millions who do?

Some people pick and choose select policies which they feel some other place does better than we do. But do they believe the reverse doesn’t also apply? Would living in Scandinavia for its healthcare, or France for its libertinism, shield us from their shortcomings?  Those places experience protests as well — Scandinavia has cracked down on immigration, and France is on the verge of implosion. Every country has division, and experiences the same internal conflict that we do when ideals clash. We might not see the challenges present in other places, but the folks living there sure do.  

America is the greatest country that has ever existed, and it’s not even close. Its founders literally wrote the book on expressive freedom and self-government. Their vision transformed the United States from a vast wilderness into a thriving, world leading, multicultural landscape, fed by a mass influx of people from around the world who sought a better place to live. Should that fact not inform our levels of pride? Our country has been the most sought after location by the rest of humanity since its inception.

Our ability to openly disagree should be celebrated, even when the chips don’t fall our way.  Nation-level freedom isn’t defined as always getting our way — if it was, we’d be 330 million separate nations of one.  

Our system allows for breathing room to adjust to ever-evolving values. We balance the security of core values with the expansion of contemporary freedoms. We celebrate diversity, while maintaining our right to hold onto what we believe works best for each of us. If we want change, there are avenues to travel on which to pursue it — if we fail, we can try again at a time when society comes more into line with the change we seek. 

That is freedom.  That is what makes America unique.  And that is why patriotism matters, and why we should all count our blessings and be proud to be American.

Ted Farley is a Plantation Key resident who  provides a “Regular Joe” point of view, based upon numerous correspondences with people from all walks of life.