A Great But Imperfect Country

It’s quite easy to be critical of America. We are failures in numerous ways from health and obesity to how many people are killed every year on our roads (though MN is better than most states in the U.S.).

When it comes to child well-being we are ranked 26th out of 29 developed nations[1].

KeysStAndrewsAs well, there are many elements of daily life elsewhere that I would love to bring back with me. Dutch bikeways and bikes, Austrian cappuccinos, and British pubs to name a few. Europeans’ consideration for others in not talking loud in public places (British pubs occasionally excepted), no-turn-on-red, their tram and train networks, appreciation for good and lasting architecture, awnings instead of umbrellas, and not over reacting and getting hyper uptight about things that really aren’t a big deal wouldn’t hurt either.

We are the land of plenty and also find plenty of things to whine and complain about (especially in the transportation and land-use arena).

When it comes to the really big stuff though, I think we’ve largely got it right. We’re not perfect and we have a ways to go but I think we’re better than most if not better than all others.

You need only talk to someone who immigrated here to fully appreciate America and what a truly great nation this is. How great the opportunities are that we have and how great is our freedom. There are important reasons why so many work so hard and risk so much to come here.

060614_flagDay_hmed_11a.grid-6x2While there is plenty to complain about, we have the freedom to complain without fear of arrest. We have the time to complain and to write for streets.mn because we don’t have to worry too much about where our next meal will come from or hike a couple of miles to the local well for water or worry about protecting those we love from marauding murderers like ISIS[2]. We also have realistic hope that our complaints and ideas for improvement will be heard and that we just might see real improvement.

Our whining and complaining are largely about first-world problems—problems that the vast majority of the world population wish that they had.

We should continue to strive to improve. We should continue to look at how others do things better and we should emulate them or invent new and better solutions to our problems. We should continue to advance technology and build new companies and create new products and enjoy all that we have.

And we should be continually thankful for the country that we have and for the people who’ve given their lives, in time and blood, for us to live in such a great nation. We should continue to improve and make America even greater and we should help others to achieve what we have.

May you have a very happy 4th of July!


[1] Child well being in rich countries, UNICEF, Innocenti Report Card 11

[2] http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/11/does-america-have-a-hunger-crisis-a-thanksgiving-faq/281903/

Walker Angell

About Walker Angell

Walker Angell is a writer who focuses mostly on social and cultural comparisons of the U.S. and Europe. He occasionally blogs at localmile.org, a blog focused on everyday bicycling and local infrastructure for people who don’t have a chamois in their shorts. And on twitter @LocalMileMN