Happy 4th of July- the USA is Special

Houston Travel Blog

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The 4th of July- What a terrific country!  We are so lucky to live here. 

Traveling provided a chance to view the U.S. from a different perspective.  Here are distinctions we noted for our country:

Our young country was built on DEMOCRACY.  Since the Independence War, no king, coup, or political dictator has ruled over us. 

While there are ongoing struggles, the U.S. holds EQUALITY as a basic principle- no (lack of) family birthright, nationality origin, or caste system prevents us from becoming what we want. 

We have FREEDOM OF SPEECH - our investigative journalists uncover and report on political and social wrongdoing.  They are not hunted for their discoveries in America. 

JUSTICE is eventually served here.  Police are generally honest.  Trial by jury is a right.  Bribes for officials, gangs, and the mafia do not run our cities.

We have FREE SCHOOLS for our children, a right to be cherished.

CLEAN WATER to drink emits from our faucets.  We do not have to hike and carry fresh water daily.

The U.S. is geographically HUGE- Jefferson's Louisiana Purchase doubled the size at the time.  The U.S. is 3000 miles across.  Rome to Amsterdam is just 1000 miles.  Our tremendous growth is partly related to our immense size. 

IMMIGRANTS of many nations grew our population to build this country.  Unless you’re of Native American descent, your ancestors were immigrants.  It is personal - let’s remember in our arrogance that we too descend from immigrants.  We are a nation of immigrants.

We are a GLOBAL nation:  Half the young people in many countries left to work abroad.  Can you imagine how that changed their countries’ fabric?  It changed ours too.  We are interconnected.  Do you want to trace your ancestry and then visit that country to experience your roots?

We are a RICH country.  Americans own far more in both quantity and size than most people.  We focus on consumerism.  We spend to impress.  We churn through items at a fast rate.  We tend to replace rather than repair.  All these things seem different than other countries we’ve visited.  I am guilty too.

Our nation’s growth in ENVIRONMENTAL issues will accelerate because we are just beginning compared to European countries.  Our knowledge of conservatism is rather low as a country.  We use far too much electricity, water, gasoline and plastic bags.  We throw out too much as we buy too much.  We could share more so we don’t all buy the same rarely used items.

Our CONSERVATION of resources will increase when our costs increase.  Here are some personal examples:

1.      In Ireland, a .15 E charge for each plastic grocery bag produced a 40% drop in plastic bag usage!  We bought reusable burlap Tesco bags to use- our first time ever.

2.      Our RV propane tank went from lasting just 5 days, to lasting over 2 months when I realized the cost went from negligible in the U.S. to 30E in Europe. 

3.      The lovely houses of people in most countries are not larger than they need nor are their yards acres of grass that require tons of precious water.  I am looking for ways to put in a garden or more plant areas than yard at our house.

4.      Gasoline costs across Europe hovered around 1E per liter, or 3.80 E per gallon.  So, people drive highly efficient small vehicles.   They use clean diesel or LPG-modified cars, both of which are less expensive than regular gasoline.  They do not bang their head repeatedly against a wall by driving huge gas-guzzlers. 

5.      When the cost of U.S. gas went up, we drove less, carpooled, switched to more efficient vehicles, and some of us *woke up* to monitor our gas usage.   I’m considering a Prius now and Ned likes the Tesla Model S all-electric car.

6.      When laundry costs were high (electricity and water), we learned to dry our clothes by hanging then up (inside or out) and it really wasn’t that hard.  (Clean air in Houston would make for better-smelling clothes though.)  We didn’t wash clothes that were not yet dirty, nor towels or sheets unnecessarily.  Was my washing machine load every night in the U.S. excessive?  Yes, we now think so.

So, increasing costs of resources will result in conserving resources, not in people paying much more overall.  Americans are resourceful and will adjust to the higher costs by using less.  Let’s not be afraid of energy and conservation measures which appear increase costs.  They work. 

We are a CREATIVE people - Music and films are our strengths.  No matter where you are in the world, American music can be heard as often as the local music.  American movies are subtitled and enjoyed everywhere.

America is a wonderful country!  Many people feel an attachment to this country through their own country's history.  While most people in Europe would not trade passports with us (they too love their countries and enjoy a high standard of living), there is respect for what our nation has accomplished and continues to accomplish.  We are resourceful, innovative, and creative. 

I'm proud to be an American.  Happy 4th of July!



azsalsa says:
Thanks for the "facts", Tessa. I agree. Spending time abroad (from living in England and traveling through Europe), I know exactly what you mean when you detail the excessive way that we Americans live our lives. We could "do" with much less and still have a high quality of life. If only more people could find this out for themselves.
Posted on: Jul 07, 2009
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