Sunday, January 8, 2012

America!

     Yesterday I went to go help out at a church: We were building a fence and lunch—Taco Bell—was provided. After we finished with the fence around 1 PM, I came home, and, not feeling too well, threw up in the toilet (twice) and took a nap. After dinner, even though I didn’t feel quite well still, I went to the store to grab some snack foods. I was coughing rather heavily (as I often do and am doing right now) at the time but I was trying to keep it discreet—after all, I hadn’t been feeling sick for 5 hours already and I didn’t really want to draw attention to myself. I wasn’t really sure if I was sick or if my body was just reacting to all that processed junk food.
     Anyway, there was this dirty looking man in the store, too—one of those people your mother would tell you not to look at or go near, simply because he looks like someone who doesn’t have his act entirely together. And sure enough, as I was checking out, this man joins the line behind me and calls out rather rudely and snidely, “You should cover your mouth when you cough. Maybe you should have gotten some of this!” and holds up a box of cold/flu symptom depressant.
     Confused and rather disturbed by his outburst, the cashier and I sort of look at each other and the cashier leans over and asks, “Excuse me sir, is there a problem?” to which the man replies “No, sir, just expressing my opinion, because I’m an American.” Since I had paid for my stuff by this time and didn’t want to reason with this shady guy, I left the store.
     Now, besides rudeness and manners and covering mouths when coughing (which, though I can’t remember precisely, I’ll admit I probably didn’t cover my cough and should have), there was one part in this entire scene that stood out to me and I hope it stood out to you too. “Just expressing my opinion, because I’m an American”? I think this man has a very solid point: he is allowed to express his opinion freely. And that’s what’s great about America—that regardless of our economy or our foreign affairs, our Constitution protects the basic rights of individuals and the states and our courts and Congressmen try their best (?) to maintain these rights.
     Unfortunately, the myth that America is the greatest country in the world* has also befallen the minds of some Americans and has birthed a sort of “American arrogance” in which being American means being entitled to everything in the world. I think some Americans have really forgotten what it takes to fulfill the American dream: a good helping of work and persistence and a bit of time. I don’t mean all Americans are blinded by this privileged pagan Americanism—no, I think many are hard-working and very kind individuals just trying to make it on their own. It’s just that throughout my very long life** I’ve been increasingly frustrated by Americans who believe they can say or do whatever they want simply because they are Americans. It’s no wonder that other countries have been growing less tolerable to us these last couple of decades! I bet Canada would have complained to the world about how bad we Americans make them look if anyone cared enough about Canada to listen***.

*I don’t quite think I’m in a position to say which country is the best. I’ve lived in America only so I don’t quite have the appropriate information or context to evaluate other countries, so I choose not to.

**A note of sarcasm. I’m not that old…yet.
 ***I'm just kidding...I'm expecting my good friend who is a Canadian to read this and he'll think it's funny. (Or I hope he will, anyway.)

      I just have a couple of words to say to the man who spoke so rudely to me yesterday. First of all, I would like to apologize for not covering my mouth when I coughed yesterday. I should have. Also, I am quite impressed by your knowledge of basic Constitutional rights. Yes, sir, in America, you are entitled to your opinion. It does not mean, however, that you should express it.
   God bless America…because, at the rate things are going, if He doesn’t, no one else will.

Happy 2012.

2 comments:

  1. Interesting reading and a note in passing, years ago when I worked for the Continental Enqiry Bureau at Victoria Station, London, England answering travel enquiries about trains all over Europe, the 2 rudest types of people were those from America and those from Germany. Not all of them of course but some. Hopefully that has changed in the last 30 years, who knows?

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