Yesterday Andrew Cuomo, Governor or New York, during a speech said that America “was never that great.This comment drew the ire and the condemnation of many American “patriots”, but was he actually right in a way? We have always been taught, growing up that “America is the greatest country in the world”. We never questioned that assertion and we never had a reason to question it. But how was that determination made and by whom? It’s like believing in God, as all religious people do. We are told He exists, but we have no proof. It’s just a matter of faith. If we don’t believe hat America is the greatest country in the world, we’re labeled as unpatriotic, ungrateful, or even treasonous. We often are told “ America. Love it or leave it”. But if we don’t believe that America is the greatest, does that mean we don’t love America?
As were were always told that America was the greatest country in the world, we were also being taught about life. In athletics we were told to always strive to do our best or to do better. In school we were always taught that we can do better. We learned the importance of corrective criticism . We were encouraged, and are still being encouraged, that we must not be complacent about anything in our lives. If that is true for the citizens of this country, shouldn’t it be true of our country?
I have traveled quite a great deal and lived in Malaysia for seven years and was always astounded by the ignorance of many Americans I spoke with concerning my foreign travel experiences. Some people actually thought that most of China had no electricity and Malaysia had no air conditioning! They were surprised to hear that Thailand and Malaysia had a thriving health tourism industry and that their healthcare systems are not only top rated, but also extremely inexpensive! I have even had people ask me if children in Asia go to school like American children! Many Americans still believe that China and India are economically very far behind that of the United States. I really do not understand how, in this interconnected world, with the Internet and 24/7 cable news and social media, so many Americans can be so ignorant! Is it because they don’t want to be educated about another country of the world or do they just don’t care? I believe that the majority of these people believe that America is the greatest, regardless of what anyone says.
So why is America so great? Let’s look at education. According to US News and World Report “Despite being home to some of the best universities in the world, the US is not considered to have one of the most educated populations. The U.S. ranks №18 in perceptions of an educated population, just above South Korea and behind Italy.” Every country in Europe and most in Asia offer completely free college tuition or substantially reduced tuition for their citizens, whereas in the United States, students graduate saddled by staggering amounts of student loan debt. Also in the US the quality of public education is dependent upon the wealth of a particular school district, with those from predominantly white, more affluent school districts faring much better than poorer non-white school districts. Children of more wealthy parents also have the luxury of sending their children to elite private schools.
Now we turn to healthcare.And we all know where we stand on this! According to Business Insider the United States does not even rank among the top 16 countries with the best healthcare. The Patient Factor has published a chart by The World Health Organization that ranks the United States number 37 out of 190 countries! Of the developed countries, the United States is the only country that does not offer its citizens free healthcare. According to Snopes , 643,000 Americans become bankrupt due to medical costs every year. In developing countries this is zero! Americans also pay much more money for prescription drugs than most other countries in the world. Because of this fact many Americans are “illegally importing drugs from other countries of the world” according to Drug Watch. This doesn’t make us so great.
Some of the saddest statistics which I see to be inexcusable are those statistics on infant mortality rate. Amazingly the United States scores much higher than comparable countries of the developing world. The Peter Kaiser Health System Tracker breaks down the ranking of the US as compared to other countries, as well as other demographics including minorities. Viewing some of these statistics is very depressing , but they also show that the US in improving slowly in some areas. We all know that the US has a high rate of drug abuse and we also have the highest prison rates of any company in the world, without referring to statistics. It’s a national embarrassment to lead the world in these two categories! We also have no reason to be proud of the number of school shootings, which have become almost common in this country. We cannot be proud of the declining attitudes in this country towards minorities and the treatment of minorities in our judicial system. We cannot even be proud of our President and Congress!
So why might we say that America is the greatest country of the world? America has the strongest and best equipped military in the world. America , for the time being is the richest country in the world with the world’s largest economy. China is close behind, but we’re still the biggest. America has some of the best universities in the world, including MIT, Harvard, Yale and Stanford, among others. Students from all over the world come here to attend these and numerous other fine institutions of higher learning. The same can be said for our world class hospitals, such as Massachusetts General Hospital, The Mayo Clinic, MD Anderson and many more fine healthcare facilities, which count patients from the world over, including numerous world leaders.
The United States leads the world in the number of entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, who have positively impacted world technology and society in general. Silicon Valley is the envy of the technology world, but is only one area of our country leading the world in technological innovation. The United States possesses an abundance of invaluable natural resources second to none in the world as well as having some of the world’s most scenic wonders, such as the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls and Yellowstone National Park. Unbeknownst to most Americans the United States leads the world in production of oil, even though we also are the world’s biggest oil importer.
How America is great cannot be easily described with statistics or with words. America is great for what she stands for. America is great because she offers opportunities and hope for those who don’t have either. In America you can become who you want to be, regardless of economic status, religion or race and even disability. America is so diverse that no matter how different you may be you can find your niche here. America is one part of the world where you can experience the food and culture of every country in the world without leaving the country. You can hear every language of the world and have the opportunity to learn that language and culture from the sons and daughters of immigrants from those countries. You can live a lifestyle in America for which you would be jailed or even executed in some countries of the world. I believe it’s called freedom. Our Constitution makes America great because of all of the rights and freedoms it grants to all people in this country. America is more than a country . It is a feeling. A feeling of pride and a desire to help others, who are less fortunate, regardless of who or what they are. America is a willingness to give someone a chance that they thought they would never have. America is the Statue of Liberty and all she stands for. America is what we her citizens want her to be.
All of those shortcomings discussed above can be fixed if we try. But first we have to admit they exist. We should never be complacent in feeling or saying that America is the greatest country in the world. We all must not accept mediocrity for ourselves and our country. We must not accept the failings of our country as normal or irreparable. We can’t just say “America, right or wrong”. We have to help America be right and just. We must strive every day to make ourselves, our town, our country better. We must resist those in this country who wish to denigrate our system of government, our Constitution and our citizens. We must denounce extreme nationalism and white supremacy, while embracing diversity. To paraphrase the US Army, “America should be all she can be”. We should never lose sight of the future.