I was born in 1964, in the Midwest of the USA, to two raised-on-farms-folks who were descendants of European immigrants.

I didn’t ask for that. Nobody has any say-so as to where, when, and to whom they’re born.

Yet, for some reason, it seems I’m obligated to think, without any question, that the USA is the greatest country ever – just because fate said that’s where I was born.

Why is that?

Don’t get me wrong. I had a great upbringing, and I do like the USA. But why do I have to just blindly accept that it’s greater than other countries?

I’m sure many people have seen the popular scene from the HBO series “The Newsroom,” in which TV journalist Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) answers the question “what makes America the greatest country in the world?” while part of a panel discussion in front of a large college audience. Just in case, here’s a transcript:


“It’s not the greatest country in the world, professor, and that’s my answer. Sharon, the NEA is a loser. Yeah, it accounts for a penny out of our paycheck, but he gets to hit you with it anytime he wants. It doesn’t cost money; it costs votes and airtime and column inches. You know why people don’t like liberals? It’s because they lose. If liberals are so fuckin’ smart, how come they lose so goddamn always? And with a straight face, you’re gonna tell a bunch of college students that America is so star-spangled awesome that we’re the only ones in the world who have freedom? Canada has freedom. Japan has freedom. The U.K., Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Australia. Belgium has freedom! Two hundred and seven sovereign states in the world, and, like, a hundred and eighty of them have freedom.

(Addressing girl in crowd who asked question) “You, sorority girl. Just in case you wander into a voting booth one day, there are some things you should know. And one of them is: there’s absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we’re the greatest county in the world. We’re seventh in literacy, twenty-seventh in math, twenty-second in science, forty-ninth in life expectancy, a hundred-and-seventy-eighth in infant mortality, third in median household income, number four in labor force and number four in exports. We lead the world in only three categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next twenty-six nations combined – twenty-five of whom are allies…so when you ask, ‘what makes us the greatest country in the world?’ I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.”


That’s pretty much my sentiment. And not just because I love Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin.

On a side note, I support our military personnel. I support our policemen. But these are professions people choose to go into – they’re not forced to do so. Does that mean I have to worship them? I went into public school teaching after college, largely because I thought it was a noble profession. It sure didn’t seem like people held me in high esteem (I lasted a year and said to myself, “this isn’t worth minimum wage”).

Anyway, I don’t get the blind nationalism. Many other countries have much better health care systems, education systems, job vacation policies, pay for their middle class, recreational drug laws, etc. They make us look pretty sad and backwards in comparison.

So, America, keep on waving your stars and stripes. Just know we’re not that fucking great.