He Said/She Said: 4th of July

He Said/She Said: 4th of July

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America is a special place.  While within the United States it’s hard to realize how different life in America is than other countries, but after 19 months in a variety of social, economic and political systems we’ve been given the opportunity to take stock on our motherland.  Here are our thoughts:

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HE SAID…

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My two favorite holidays are purely American: Thanksgiving and the 4th of July.  These are the days that the daily grind halts and we’re able to spend time with the three F’s: friends, family and food.  It is also these days that the country comes together over beers and acknowledges that we all have something in common: we’re Americans.  Until you’ve walked the streets in a variety of the world, especially the poor parts of the world, it’s hard to realize how great we’ve got it.

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A camp of Americans preparing to take the summit of Mt. Everest.

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Take a look at a map of the world and you’ll see national borders that were generally determined by outside forces.  These borders were created by colonizers, invaders and kingdoms of yesteryear.  America’s borders were self-determined.  We are the only major country that defined it’s own borders by beating the world’s superpowers.  When the British and Spanish ruled the world, America took them on and won.  This will, hard work and ingenuity defined our borders and system of government to build the richest country in history.  There will always be ups-and-downs, but as a country we’ve always come out on top.

Sadly from abroad I see another side of our country: our foreign policy.  While we trumpet freedom at home, we support heinous oligarchies in “our national interest”.  It is always nice to have friendly foreign governments, but not if it is creating enemies of the millions they are oppressing.  We should never allow our foreign policy to be hypocritical of the ideals we have as a nation: democracy, personal freedom and self-determination.  We needn’t be global crusaders, overthrowing illegitimate rulers, rather we should simply withdraw support.  This Fourth of July we should commit to making the freedoms we hold dear available to all.  Lowering our ideals is not in our national interest.

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SHE SAID…

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I have never considered myself very patriotic, but this trip has made me proud to be an American and helped me realize how lucky I am to come from the home of the brave and land of the free.  In the U.S. the Fourth of July was just another holiday, but on the road it reminds us of all the things that we took for granted at home.  Sure, America has their problems, but you are still much better off coming from the U.S. than almost any other country in the world.

The freedoms I enjoy in the United States are incredible in comparison to many of the places we have visited on this trip.  Especially as a woman I notice the differences that my passport provides.  In most countries women are first and foremost mothers, which is an important role, but for some they don’t have the option to leave the house, choose the partner that they will have kids with or where they live.  Women are second class citizens in even much of the rapidly developing world.  It has not been entirely uncommon for people to address thinkCHUA rather than me, even if I have asked a question.  These differences in gender equality give a whole new meaning to “land of the free” for me.

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An Indian mother doing her one and only traditional job: motherhood.

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That being said I have also learned through the course of this trip that simply because of the ideals we hold dear we cannot tell others what they should value.  Offering programs and aid to women and others in need is important.  However, it’s not fair to come into a country and assume you know what is right for them and act accordingly.  Simply because I believe woman should not have to cover up does not mean I shouldn’t dress conservatively.  Even if America is one of the world’s superpowers we need to respect other cultures and help where we can with  needed changes to bring freedoms to the citizens of the developing world.  However, if change is driven by an outside force, regardless of how large, it will not have the same impact as if change is demanded from within a country.

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YOUR TURN: What do you think makes America special?  What do you think is the best way to share it with the rest of the world?


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Comments

» Bka :
Jul 4, 2012

Just returned from big Red, White and Boom fireworks on river, not quite Sydney…..do I detect I bit of Ron Paul support in your comments?…..we understand and appreciate our freedoms and countries blessings every day….Happy Anniversary!…….Love Dad

LOCAVORista Reply:

Dad, I bet the fireworks were great in Minneapolis! Glad to know you’re not taking your citizenship for granted :)

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About the Author

thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.

About the Author
thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.
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