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Passions in Poetry

I never said America was a bad country but . . .

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Brad
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since 08-20-99
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Jejudo, South Korea


0 posted 03-04-2003 06:16 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

it seems I am always interpreted as saying such a thing. My question in LR's thread wasn't supposed to be is America a good country or a bad country, but whether it is really so much better than other countries.

The answers so far don't really address the distinction I'm trying to make here:

1. We aren't perfect but at least we are free.

Yes, but so are other countries. America is not the only country that believes in freedom or that is free.

2. We help other countries.

Yes, but so do other countries. On the BBC, it was reported that someone had said that America had helped Europe in the past, but isn't willing to repay the favor in our time of need. This is blatantly untrue. We have always been "late for the wars" as the guy in "Chicken Run" said. We were late because we thought it was their war in both cases. I love Churchill quotes and though some of these are apparently just made up, I still like this one, "Don't worry. America will do the right thing. Once it has tried everything else."

These last two are from Nakdthought:

3. It's not a bad place to live or raise a child.

I agree it's not. I grew up there. But my question was why is it a better place to raise children?  There are really good reasons to go to a university in America, but most people seem to agree that the public school system is broken down. Statistically, this is backed up.      

4. I wouldn't choose anywhere else.

Fair enough. I'm certainly not trying to reverse the question, I'm not advocating that another country is better than America. I can complain about any country that I've lived in (and I do, just not here. It makes no sense to complain to Americans that Koreans shouldn't be ashamed of the Taegu subway incident, they should fix the problem.). I see no problems with America being the default place to live.

Now, I have an answer, a tentative one perhaps, but still an answer:

Americans are conditioned to be pragmatists and opportunists.  

This is the flipside of American lawlessness. We have never been very good at being law abiding because we just don't like other people telling us what to do, we don't like anybody telling us what to do. In Menand's the "Metaphysical Club", the argument is made that what really upset the majority of Northerners wasn't slavery (abolitionists were extremists then) as such but that they were duty bound to round up run away slaves. Why should we listen to the South? And of course, the South had the same problem with the North.

These values may have transformed into strange and counter-productive practices, but I still think it's there. Why do I think this is a good thing? Because in the end we still believe that we should take responsibiity for our own lives, right or wrong. The emphasis is on results though, not on justice, not on fairness.

The problem is that we also, if Bloom and LR following Bloom, are correct have an evangelical side that we are right, not just right to live our lives but right to tell other people what to do. This isn't because we are 'better' than other people but because the 'right' thing to do is obvious.

Was John Brown a terrorist or a freedom fighter?

Curiously, these two tendencies intermingle and may even compliment rather than contradict each other. But I suspect somewhere they have become untethered and are each going their own separate ways.

I think we need a re-union.
nakdthoughts
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Between the Lines


1 posted 03-04-2003 07:31 PM       View Profile for nakdthoughts   Email nakdthoughts   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for nakdthoughts

3. It's not a bad place to live or raise a child.
I think I said it this way:
"And Brad, that doesn't mean America is a bad place to raise a child. (There is very little crime if any here where I live, in small town America. You can walk the streets at night without fear. I can even leave my doors unlocked and go for a walk.)"...my exact words
4. I wouldn't choose anywhere else.

and on this point yes I agree that I am happy here, I probably wouldn't even choose another state to live in because I am situated here and appreciate and  enjoy what I have worked so hard to have. (Yes that is materialistic, but isn't that what one works for...earns a living to have the necessities and desires in life...those you see and can't see?)

anyway I just wanted to set those two comments straight. I don't want anyone else to think that I think one country is better than another, if I have not experienced living there. I think most people love and are patriotic towards the country in which they are born and raised in. That is why so many who come to the United States still hold onto their heritage and support families back home.


I have never been anywhere else, have lived a rather sheltered life. Have been up and down the east coast and over to Las Vegas. I am not a person who could compare states and or countries. I just know I do have the freedom to grow here and to work and to buy what I want or need.

We may even seem to be a spoiled nation. But that is our right. I think  we are a compassionate nation, even if our leaders make it seem less than that.

not sure why I responded...guess I wanted to make sure my friends in other parts of the world don't think that I don't value others' feelings towards their own country.

[This message has been edited by nakdthoughts (03-04-2003 07:33 PM).]

Denise
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2 posted 03-04-2003 11:05 PM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

Brad, I don't think that it is any "better" than any other country that values and upholds individual freedom and respects human rights.

Maureen, where do you live? I'm so jealous! I might be relocating there! It sounds wonderful! But I'm so used to dead-bolt locking my doors, "clubbing" my car and putting a death-grip on my purse when I'm walking down the street, always having to be "aware" of my surroundings, that I'd probably go into culture shock if I didn't have to!

Local Rebel
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3 posted 03-04-2003 11:22 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Well I think it's better and I've got a bowl of seafood gumbo and a bottle of Jack Daniels to prove it -- prefer that over Kimchi any day... I think that's what it comes down to Brad... no place like home.

I'd hope South Koreans felt the same -- but unfortunately the ones I've known didn't -- they wanted to come here.  But that's a whole different story.

I was actually thinking of the question 'Why does every conversation have to come down to a referrendum on America?' and I think it's because Americans are very introspective and insecure right now.  Eh?
Brad
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since 08-20-99
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Jejudo, South Korea


4 posted 03-05-2003 12:14 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Yeah, Denise, I knew you'd be a voice of sanity around here (and thanks to nakdthoughts as well).

Does anybody else see the distinction between saying, "America is a great country" and "America is the greatest country on the planet"?

Imagine screaming the latter and then saying, "The only thing Korea is good for are the women."

At a soccer match in Korea.

Okay, the guy who said that was drunk and he's a friend of mine, but, but you find yourself in strange positions sometimes.

An anecdote of course, but an exception?

Perhaps, but we're seeing a lot of exceptions coming out of America these days and the world does listen.

Oh, I'll post a cool little trick later with the presidents since Roosevelt. I figured it out this afternoon, but I bet anyone else can see how it works -- there's an interesting little parallel going on.

  
nakdthoughts
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Between the Lines


5 posted 03-05-2003 06:36 AM       View Profile for nakdthoughts   Email nakdthoughts   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for nakdthoughts

Denise..I am less than 2 hours away from you in PA on the MD border. Interstate 30 west to I 83 south ( below York) to the first exit in PA.

We have no traffic lights in our town, but 4 in the next due to Walmart. It is building up here but will never be like the big cities. I have lived here over 24 years in a house that is 102 years old and before that, 4 years in the next town. Builders are developing because so many want to live here where the worst that happens is the traffic at the stop signs on Main Street is beginning to back up at rush hour coming home. *s ( but there are many small towns like this, all over PA.)


[This message has been edited by nakdthoughts (03-05-2003 06:37 AM).]

Balladeer
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6 posted 03-05-2003 07:10 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

Denise, that's because you live in the city of brotherly love....
Denise
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7 posted 03-05-2003 07:38 PM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

Sounds like a dream, Maureen. I'll have to add that to my dream list. I've checked the suburbs around the Philly area and they are not affordable for me. Maybe further out is the answer! Some day! Right now I work for the city and I have to live here as a stipulation of employment. But someday...

Brad, sounds like your friend should stay away from the alcohol. I don't think I've ever seen a person who was drunk not say something stupid and/or insulting. He's lucky he wasn't jumped.

Balladeer, a definite misnomer if I ever heard one! Actually, the tourist areas are quite nice and safe (near where I work), but my neighborhood has definitely taken the plunge in the past five years due to those Federal housing programs that haven't quite lived up to their original intent. Oh well, I guess with every government program designed to help one person, someone else ends up getting screwed over in the process. Due to depreciation in my area, due to the effects of the housing program, I owe much more for my house (original mortgage) than I can sell it for. I'll try not to feel too guilty if the day comes when I just have to walk away and default on the mortgage. Ya think Congress will pick up the tab for me? Or maybe if I live long enough my neighborhood will qualify for an urban regentrification program and I'll then own a house that I couldn't possibly afford to buy at current values!
Brad
Member Ascendant
since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


8 posted 03-06-2003 12:29 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Seafood gumbo?

And that's the problem with moving around, you always leave something behind you miss. If and when we move back, my wife thinks her mother will have to send kimchi to us.

At any rate here's my cute parallel:

Roosevelt--Reagan
Truman--Bush Sr.
Eisenhower--Clinton
Kennedy--Dubya

If we see these two trajectories moving in opposite directions on a political spectrum, it follows the same pattern. It may hard to believe these days but Eisenhower and Clinton both ran as centrists. It has often been said that if Kennedy hadn't been assassinated, the Great Society would not have been implemented (and needless to say, the commitment to Vietnam required much the same evangelism that we see today). Could Dubya be doing the same thing he's doing now without 911?

Look at the Kennedy/Johnson combination when compared to the Bush/Cheney combination.

This isn't history, it has no predictive value, it's not intended to compare the respective personalities, it was just a neat little way of showing myself that evangelism and pragmatism aren't untethered after all.  

Obviously, most people can just see this as the distinction between moderation and extremism and that's fine, but I like my terms better. Instead of focusing on the difference in commitment, we focus on the difference in results.

 
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