I often associate American patriotism with the person who drives a pickup with a gun rack and the bumper sticker that says "Support Our Troops" next to the one that says "Bush Cheney 04" . This person believes that the war in Iraq is the same thing as the war on terror. And it turns me off in a major fashion when it comes to patriotism. Loving America is the job of the ignorant. Thanking God for this country is for...them (you know exactly what people I'm talking about). The pickup also features Calvin peeing on Osama bin Laden.
But when it comes down to it, I'm so blessed to be living here. And this Thanksgiving I'm putting it towards the top of things that I'm grateful for.
A month or so ago I had dinner with a group of friends that included a girl from Belarus. She has a brother who attends the national university there. A year ago, there was a rally for the president of Belarus and all of the university students were supposed to attend. Her brother already had a ticket for the train home that weekend, so he didn't go. When he got back, all of his stuff had been confiscated and he was told he was not allowed to stay in the college dormitories anymore because he hadn't attended the rally for the president. Rent was too much elsewhere, but he was able to bribe an official and stay in the dorms anyway.
A few weeks ago we had elections in our country. Plenty of people are unhappy with the results, as with any election. But the people that were fairly voted in will take their positions and there will be little ado about it. The system is stable and people don't question it. They complain, but nobody's trying to overthrow the government. Elections are not this tidy in many places.
A few days ago China unblocked Wikipedia for internet users across the nation. And then blocked it again. Can you imagine living somewhere where the government has such control over what you can learn? Even when they unblocked Wikipedia, certain subjects were blocked that were too sensitive to be allowed.
A classic quote from Dr. Murdock (my 20th Century China professor last year): "We have Chinese government officials come here all the time. One of these times ask them how many people died in Tienanmen. And then BYU security will get really mad because you're provoking a guest. But do it anyway."
It could be a lot worse. We've got some good things going for us. I love the United States. There are some good people, some beautiful places, etc. I'm trying to be more grateful for it.