10 Things That Are Really Good About the U.S.

I figure we can all think of a lot of bad things. It’s a long list. Since it’s almost the 4th, though, I’m going to talk about some positive things about America instead!

1. We’re charitable. In terms of percentages of income, no one comes close to giving as much money to charitable causes as people in the U.S. Churches get a third of these donations, but many churches in turn do things like run soup kitchens or give to disaster relief programs. We even outstrip the giving of developed countries with comparable tax rates or higher GDPs  per capita. Low-income working Americans give the most: an average of 4.5 percent of their income. We also volunteer more than anybody else, which is one of the reasons we came in at #1 on the World Giving Index. Of course, there isn’t a perfect way to measure this kind of thing, beyond the self-evident truth that Persephone readers are the nicest people in the world, but I think it’s fair to say Americans are pretty generous.

2. We smile all the damn time, at friends and strangers alike. Even some of us who live in big cities do! Visitors to the U.S. sometimes wonder what the hell we’re so happy about, or suspect us of being insincere. Every time I say, “Have a nice day,” though, I really mean it.

3. We make fantastic music. We created jazz, gospel, and blues. We came up with rock ‘n’ roll. And then, rather than rest on our laurels, we came up hip hop and rap. Black Americans invented all these for the most part, though others helped along the way. Oh, and there’s folk and bluegrass and country music. Did you know that Mexican cowboys introduced guitars to Native Hawaiians, who then developed their unique style of slack-key guitar playing, and then white country music singers adopted the steel guitar from the Hawaiians in the 1920s? Pretty cool.

4. We make the best blockbuster movies. The Avengers is my new favorite movie of all time! Titanic, unlike the boat, had a good long run.

5. We have a proud tradition of anti-snobbery. Though some of us are pretentious, way more of us like to make fun of pretentious people, which is why politicians make sure to wear casual shirts and blue jeans on occasion. Anti-snobbery is a staple of our comedy. The Blues Brothers go to a fine restaurant and toss food in each other’s mouths, or Megan of Bridesmaids tells a lady she just met at a classy shindig, “I’m glad he’s single, cause I’m going to climb that like a tree,” and we love it.

6. We come up with most of the big game-changers on the Internet: Google, ebay, Amazon, Facebook, youtube, twitter, Wikipedia, Paypal, tumblr, Pinterest, and so on. I don’t know what I’d be without them, other than wealthier, fitter, and frightfully well-read.

7. Our national parks are amazing. We’ve got everything. Purple mountain majesty, tropical beaches, and glaciers? Check, check, and check. Volcanos? Right this way, and mind your step. If you want to get involved with protecting the national parks from mining, fracking, and other threats, check out the National Parks Conservation Association.

8. Most of us take the “freedom of speech” thing pretty seriously. After all, if we shut you up, how can we shout back at you? Shouting back is, like, our favorite thing!

9. We make the most amazing quilts! The Amish, communities of African-Americans, white women in the mid-Atlantic states, native Hawaiians, and other groups have all made lasting contributions to the art form.

10. The Affordable Care Act! You knew I’d mention that, I bet.

Happy Independence Day to you Persephoneers in the U.S., and the rest of you, have a nice week. I mean it!

Photo credit!

Published by

Bryn Donovan

Romance writer, poet, quilter, and dog cuddler.

20 thoughts on “10 Things That Are Really Good About the U.S.”

  1. Yay! Quilting! This one made me irrationally happy about my hobby that I generally hate.

    Also the smiling thing: I like that we smile too. I just read a blog post by an Irish traveller who hates that we smile so much because he said it’s insincere, and my response was, “Bitch, we’re friendly. Fuck off.”

    1. Are you a quilter too?? I was thinking about writing a brief brief history of American quilting, but then I was afraid no one besides me would really care. :) I can understand a love/hate attitude toward it. One of my friends runs ultramarathons, and she said the other day that quilting was the ultramarathon of crafts.

      1. I’ve taken over as the family quilter. I’ve made one twin and am now working on a king (KILL ME NAO). But I do it all by machine and I so far refuse to do the backing and batting attaching myself. But I’m learning! and it’s slow goings for me. I’ll knock out a 2ftx2ft section in a day but then won’t touch the damn thing for weeeeks.

        But I’d totally read the fuck out of anything you write quilting or otherwise. Especially now that I got my computer back! (P*Mag loads funny on my smart phone so I’ve been MIA for a while).

  2. I was just thinking about this yesterday — namely, whether I am proud to be American. I guess if you asked me, I would say that I am proud — but in a subdued, quiet way, not in the loud, over-the-top, belligerent way that seems to be the fashion these days. (Both kinds have their merits , though — it’s just that I prefer the former to the latter.) And I tend to be most proud of our unique culture and fascinating history (bloody as it is — never mind that we screwed countless people over in the process). The wars and sports part, however, I can do without.

  3. I don’t know if I see the “anti-snobbery” thing as a good thing, because mostly it seems to come at a really high price of a lot of people turning a lack of curiosity or intelligence into a virtue. People prefer politicians to wear jeans and t-shirts, but they also prefer some of them to espouse ideas like creationism, or show ignorance or lack of concern about the world outside U.S. borders. And often just being smart, or being aware of other cultures or speaking more than one language or having a certain degree of higher education, is cast as “snobbery” even if you don’t act the least bit superior about it.

    I don’t know, I’d rather live in a country where people might be pretentious but also require that their politicians have the level of critical thinking skills and education (formal or otherwise) to lead a nation.

  4. I love smiling.  Smiling’s my favorite!

    Seriously, America has some pretty cool cultural stuff going on.  Even if we have only been around for 236 years as of Wednesday!  I know that we’re a little (or a lot) messed up on some things, but I love this place, and I consider it a right and a privilege to help make it a better place.  :)

  5. This was a really great read, and some all-too infrequent optimism. Especially part six “I don’t know what I’d be without them, other than wealthier, fitter, and frightfully well-read,” because that is all too true!

    There are so many movements to take away our inherent rights in our day and age, and it is nice to be reminded that I live in a country that I can, most of the time, be proud of.

  6. I was just reflecting this weekend that, if not for Tumblr, Slate, P-Mag, The Hairpin/Awl/Billfold and Twitter (and several blogs owned by a guy whose name rhymes with Dick Nenton that I am No Longer Reading, Ha-Rumph) I would be much, much better read.  In fact, I’ve finished 1.5 books in the time since I decided to stop reading the previously mentioned Blogs I Am No Longer Reading, Ha-rumph – which is a lot of books, for me, in that time frame!

    Oh internet- the cause of, and solution to, all my problems.

    1. At least; with P-Mag I feel like I learn stuff!

      I guess with Dick Nenton’s ladyblog (can we always call him Dick Nenton? Hahahahaha) I learned some stuff I didn’t know about celebrities, but I didn’t want to know…and I would wind up reading about them anyway. Blergh.

      1. True!  P-Mag actually has the highest amount of “new” stuff of pretty much anything I read, which is awesome.  Slate just confirms my biases by attempting to assert the contrapositive (‘Cigarettes: Actually good for you?”), Tumblr shows me cute animal pics, The Awl mainly lets me know about bands I should know about already, and I like the Hairpin “Ask A…” columns.  With Dick Nenton’s ladyblog (and yeah, !’m calling him that forever, lol) I pretty much just learned waaaaaay more about “Toddlers and Tiaras” than I ever needed to know!

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