Will the United States ever be great again?

It feels like our country keeps sinking and sinking and sinking. We’re behind so many countries in just about everything. What is there to celebrate about us?? Seriously. On the 4th of July, what can I point to that our country is doing that is truly great? And please don’t name things other countries are doing, and better.

I know I sound so negative, but I’m still reeling from the recent revelations about Blackwater, and the supreme court decision about Hobby Lobby. Hobby Lobby will still pay for viagra and their male employee’s vasectomies. How is that fair and just? I know this is a very difficult issue to find a middle ground on, but the Affordable Care Act was amended so birth control could still be provided by the insurer, but without direct involvement by the religious organization. I don’t understand why this wasn’t sufficient.

This makes me thoroughly committed to the idea that government should now be the sole conduit for healthcare.

The pool where I will soon be spending all my evenings going back and forth and back and forth, 140 times a night. 140!!

Tony Dapolito Recreation Center Outdoor Pool

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

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5 thoughts on “Will the United States ever be great again?

  1. I agree with you on the egregious SCOTUS decision and totally loved the positions taken by the Lady Supremes. I have to believe things will balance out, though. Things generally do, though it seems to take too long.

    As far as the US being great? Yes, we are. A family in my very small Ohio community adopted 12 Ukrainian children. 12. They’re happy, well adjusted and above all, safe. I have some young friends who spend their vacations going to depressed areas of the world to lend a hand, at their own expense. They are currently in Haiti. It gives me hope.

    The true American spirit is generous and unselfish and that, I believe, is what makes us great. Look at the country’s and your own response to 9/11. Look at who we elected as our President. Look at how far civil rights have progressed in 50 years. Look at the aid we’ve extended across the globe.

    No, we are not perfect, but I do believe we’re the best there is. One dumb Supreme Court decision may shake my faith a bit, but I know it will come right in the end.

  2. Maybe it depends on perspective.

    Was America great when it declared independence? I was just visiting Colonial Williamsburg where someone in costume and in character read the entire declaration aloud. I had forgotten it was so long and specific as to the colonists’ grievances. It was very moving. But were there problems with the new country? Yes.

    Was America great in the 20th century, in the two world wars? Yes, but there were problems, and the cold war that followed was not her shining hour. The civil rights movement was great but it only existed to overcome the problems of racism.

    I love America and the great things she stands for. Her people are bold and self-assured and feel righteous. They have problems but they always work to solve the problems. I think greatness demands and depends on perspective.

  3. That’s what I’m asking for, some examples to give me perspective. I mean this Blackwater revelation. I don’t know if you read about it, but when the State Department’s investigator was threatened with DEATH, by Blackwater, our government backed down. A few weeks later Blackwater opened fire on Iraqi civilians, killing 17.

  4. I think if we measure ourselves against perfection and our ideals, we’ll always be disappointed. One thing that brings me some hope is that most people are still outraged when they hear about things like Blackwater. I’m not sure it is thus everywhere. For one thing, we don’t have the tribal obligations and hatreds that seem to rule a lot of the world. For all our problems with race, etc., you look at places like Africa or Syria (and now Iraq, again), and realize we actually have it pretty good here.

    Along with that, we remain a bastion of individualism. In China, you can make a ton of money as an entrepreneur, but may God help you if you’re any kind of political or religious dissident. Freedom in those areas is still suppressed there. We’re also improving in areas like gay rights; see Russia for one counterexample of how things can be.

    There’s an old essay from a Civil War book by Fletcher Pratt, a chapter titled “The Indecisiveness of Decisions” which has stayed with me. Starting around page 279, he has a good section on what separates Americans from the rest of the world.
    You can find it via Google Books at: http://goo.gl/nJgLht

    Or, this may be more what you’re looking for:
    * http://www.rd.com/best-of-america/
    * http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/1zksek/what_does_america_do_best/
    * http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/25/travel/10-things-u-s-does-better/

  5. Then, what we need to do is define what we want to mean by “great” and look to see if any of it is around. I bet there are a lot of great people who just aren’t getting the spotlight these days. Let’s not be distracted by the petty bickering of people with obviously nothing better to do, or a few evil miscreants with selfish agendas. (I admit, I had not heard about the recent Blackwater revelation.)

    I didn’t know about Amartya Sen until I was assigned his book ‘Development as Freedom’ in a philosophy seminar. But there he is, at the age of 80 now, still making a difference. No, he is not American, but he is who came to mind as an unsung ‘world-changer’.

    I am also taking a Coursera course called “how to change the world” guided by Michael Roth, the president of Wesleyan.
    https://class.coursera.org/changetheworld-002 It has its origins in the Social Good Summit right there in NYC this September! http://mashable.com/sgs/

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