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!