Home
Loading
  Contact Us    
My Favorite Country

Especially when it just leaves people alone.

by James Leroy Wilson
July 3, 2003

Bookmark and Share


My Favorite Country_James Leroy Wilson-Especially when it just leaves people alone. In times of war, it is easy for those critical of government policy to be accused of being unpatriotic. To that, I could plead either guilty or not guilty, depending on the definition of patriotism. As I've written before, I am a patriot in the sense that I love my home and homeland. I want things to go well here; I want myself and others to live happily in freedom and peace in my own city, state, and country. And I love American food, American sports, American music, American movies. I admire the theological and moral seriousness of many American denominations. I love American cities and I love the American countryside.

Where I would confess to being unpatriotic is in the degrees of affection. I have closer ties, obviously, to family and friends than I do with strangers. The death or suffering of strangers mean more to me, if those strangers are close to someone who is close to me. I don't know any of the victims of September 11, but I know some who were friends or relatives of victims. That brings the tragedy closer to home. No doubt, it's usually true that the death of any American has a greater chance of impacting my life or the life of someone I know.

But the mere fact of being American is neither here nor there to me. That an American soldier died in combat doesn't cause in me any greater grief than an Iraqi child run over by a tank, or blown to bits upon stumbling on a live shell. I can't say that Iraqis who shoot American troops are any more in the wrong than those troops themselves. After all, the American soldiers volunteered to serve, assuming the risk that the government would place them in an unjust and useless war. They are personally responsible for that decision, and for not deserting once the shooting began. But the Iraqis did not consent to an American invasion and occupation. I can't judge the Iraqi resistance, or assume that they are all either pro-Saddam or Iranian-supported Islamic fundamentalists. Many of them probably just want to be let alone.

This leads me back to why I'm glad I'm an American. How can that be after what I've just written? Well, it's because I'm not proud of anything the government has done; I'm glad to be an American for what the government hasn't done. When the United States government decides to do something, count me out. It never does anything good, because no State in history ever accomplished anything good. The State can't, because it brings about social "cooperation" through force, whereas the only good things in life are accomplished through voluntary cooperation.

And that's why I'm glad - proud - to be an American. Throughout most of its history, our government was mostly willing to just leave people alone. The government wasn't good - in fact, it did a lot of evil things. But it did fewer things than the governments of other countries. And that's the key.

It is also the best trait, to the extent it exists, of the American character. Arguably, it is the best trait of character and virtue itself: to tolerate other people and their ways; to leave other people alone. Rose Wilder Lane, a woman of compassionate heart who already knew what American big-city slums were like, wrote that while visiting Budapest in the late 1910's or early 20's, she observed the police as it marched through the slums at night. Every slum-dweller had an employment card which would have been marked by an employer if he or she had worked that day. If a man's card hadn't been marked for a few days in a row, he was hauled into court, guilty unless proven innocent of thievery. And women with unmarked cards were judged to be prostitutes and given a prostitute's card. The men must be thieves and the women prostitutes - otherwise, how could they eat? Such was the logic of the European State.

Lane also recounts the thirty minute ordeal of purchasing such mundane items as buttons in Paris. Napoleon set up an elaborate system that would "protect the consumer" from fraud. Every purchase must be meticulously recorded and signed by the customer, clerk, and third party. Even after the United States had given the Industrial Revolution a second wind, creating far more efficiency and abundance than ever previously imagined, France maintained this apparatus for fear of throwing its bureaucrats out of work.

This was the sort of mischief that the United States avoided for much of its history. This is why people fled to the United States. The United States wasn't, and wasn't supposed to be, like other countries. And that is the United States I love. The land of opportunity. The land of people minding their own business. The land of the Ethiopian cab driver, and of the Amish buggy-rider. The land of tranquil routine (baseball), but also of constant movement (basketball) and risk (tackle football).

For we can't have one without the other. The right of the individual, whether an immigrant or not, to pursue happiness through acquiring financial wealth, is the very same right to let another pursue happiness through simplicity and tranquility. One can not resort to The State to tread on the other. There is room enough for all kinds: sectarian farmers, flamboyant cosmopolitans, intellectuals, journeymen, classically-trained musicians, untrained punk musicians, the bourgeois, the bohemian, the jock, the scientist, the drinker, the teetotaler, the bawdy, the holy, the gambler, the philanthropist.

The United States is where it's at. The United States is loved and admired precisely where it is out of step with the rest of the world, and detested in the very ways that it behaves like the rest of the world. It is still a land of energy and vitality. Yet it still can be a quiet, stress-free place for people who want to live that way. America has it all.

So for our Independence Day I will celebrate what is right about the United States. There are lots of other days to point out what is wrong.

(0 Comments)
Post a Comment

Send Us Your Opinion
(Comments are moderated.)
Your Name:*


Your E-Mail Address:*
(Confidential. Will not be published.)


Location:


Comments:*
Note: In order to control automated spam submissions, URLs are no longer permitted in this form.



Verification:
Please type the letters you see above.

  Printer-Friendly

Bookmark and Share


PO BOOKS BY JAMES LEROY WILSON
Ron Paul Is a Nut (and So Am I)
Published September 10, 2008

Forget about red states and blue states. Wilson's unique take on political topics is refreshingly not politics as usual.

» Buy Now
» More Information
RSS FEED
RSS Feed for James Leroy Wilson: RSS Feed for James Leroy Wilson
EMAIL ALERTS
Sign up to receive an e-mail notice when new articles by this author are published. Your address remains confidential, and you may cancel at any time. A confirmation email will be sent.

Your e-mail address:
My Favorite Country
po Books
Now Available!

Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke,
by Hal Evan Caplan.

A father learns from the wisdom of his toddler.

More Information.

More by James Leroy Wilson
47 for 46 for 45
My favorite movies since when I was born
by James Leroy Wilson, 3/15/16
Hired Gun Quarterbacks
They rarely win the Super Bowl.
by James Leroy Wilson, 2/9/16
Fixing Football's Overtime
Get rid of the coin toss!
by James Leroy Wilson, 1/19/16
Solving the NBA's Conference Imbalance
Get rid of them!
by James Leroy Wilson, 5/26/15
The Problem of School
We develop differently, but arbitrary age rules punish us.
by James Leroy Wilson, 5/19/15
Deflating and defaming Tom Brady
Punishing without evidence
by James Leroy Wilson, 5/12/15
Should Floyd Mayweather be allowed to fight?
The Nevada Athletic Commission is wrong, but not for the reason you think.
by James Leroy Wilson, 4/28/15
» Complete List (565)


RSS FEED
RSS Feed for James Leroy Wilson: RSS Feed for James Leroy Wilson

Recently Published
View Article May I Be Frank, Mr. President?
Challenging a double standard in the Oval Office
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 12/15/17
Salvator Mundi
Not the painting but the Person
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 12/7/17
When the Newsman Becomes News
Lamenting yet another fallen hero
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 12/1/17
Let's Hear It for Moms and Pops
Celebrating Small Business Saturday in a very personal way
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 11/22/17
An Earthquake in La La Land
Examining what's been exposed in the rubble
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 11/17/17
Where is God?
Reflecting on the tragedy in a little Texas town
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 11/10/17
An All Saints Day Tribute
Remembering those who left us
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 11/3/17

Get the Partial Observer's
'recently published' headlines via RSS.


RSS Feed for Recently Published PO Articles    What is RSS?

Reproduction of original material from The Partial Observer without written permission is strictly prohibited.
The opinions expressed by site contributors do not necessarily reflect those of the editors.
Copyright ©2000-2017 partialobserver.com. All rights reserved.
Home · Site Map · Top