I'm not big on talking about politics (nor religion) and this isn't that. It's me talking about being an American. Last year, I traveled to every continent except Antarctica and that gave me a chance to reflect on what it means to me to be an American and how I felt the world perceives us.
It's a strange time to be an American. There have been many moments where I don't feel proud and more than a few where it touches on shame, especially during my foreign travels. I constantly feel like apologizing.
I think this comes from the global belief that America is a place of opportunity and freedom. Even with our consumerism and Super Size me mentality, much of the world holds a special place in their hearts for America. From Western Europe, across the Middle East, into Asia and down to Australia, I've always been welcomed with an extra smile, bigger hug and warmer kiss when people find out I'm American. The news may tell us one thing, but I like to judge life based on my experiences, and I can tell you being an American serves as an add almost all the time....possibly more than any other nationality (Aussies are our closest competition in the beloved country competition).
I think we forgot we are special and great. Maybe because people got on TV and told us we aren't great anymore....and some listened. Like everything in life, there are some obvious flaws, but what we have is special, and it would be sad to lose that and become homogenized. Our colors, languages, accents, cultures and foods make us special. We were built on shades and variances and while we are an enormous country, we historically have embraced foreigners, provided life-changing opportunities and openly let people call themselves Americans within a lifetime. That's special and not something many other countries allow. We are a country built on immigration and hard work and basically, all our family tree's roots include that foundation.
I believe we are still great. America has unified over the past months in ways that makes me proud again. I think we are all scared and fearful of the unknown. That's life and relying on the core value that created us---land of the free, home of the brave--seems like a wise beacon during these times. Be kind to your neighbors, help those less fortunate. Living in a way that pays it forward always seems to pay you back. Or at least that's what the world has shown me.