Elegy for American Values
Every year around this time, as we gather to overeat and watch “bombs bursting in air” — and what better way to symbolize America’s chief national fetish? — our celebrations of liberation from the British Crown offer an opportunity to review some of the reasons why it’s great to be an American. Aside from a ridiculously “high standard of living,” what allegedly distinguishes us from the rest of the world, the qualities that make us exceptional, in the parlance, are those singularly lofty Values to which we all subscribe.
Surely, you’ve heard the stories, so we need not catalogue the glories. But if you’ve momentarily forgotten, here’s a good mnemonic trick: American Values are everything Righteous and Good. (Other countries’ values, by dint of not being American Values, can’t quite match our morals and ethics. Canada, for example.) America = Land of Opportunity. America = Justice for All. America = Equal Rights for All.
Good stuff. And while it’s not far-fetched to imagine how a person of color, or a Muslim, or a queer pot-smoking immigrant, might mistakenly believe that American Values only apply to some particular and special Americans, the beauty of our values is that they can be enjoyed indirectly. Think of White Males as a galaxy of radiant suns; think of everyone else as a billion orbiting stars, each basking in the penumbra of radiating American Values. It’s nice(r) when you say it that way.
Our current White House administration, which has the benefit of wearing its lunacy on its sleeve, where there can be do doubt of the general madness infecting the Oval Office, includes a President and dozens of cabinet members who are experts in American history. If anyone understands American Values, it these fine gentlemen and ladies, who have dedicated their lives to alternately making America great (again?) and amassing fortunes worthy of great Americans. They embody all that is magnificent about the United States of America, and we who are not like them exactly maybe ought to consider being more exactly like them: embrace American Values, reap American rewards.
So, on this Independence Day — and, wow, what a relief to be free of the tyrannical Brits, free to rule ourselves as we see fit, free to elect whomever we please to save us from ourselves — we’re going to take our national anthem seriously (for once). We’re going to remember that America is truly genuinely authentically the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, and if any doubts creep into our conviction, we’ll look to our Great and Caring Leader, the one whose American Success Story we all wish to emulate, and we’ll be inspired. He’s a proud American, and he’s a beautiful person.
The rest of us can be, too. We just need to work harder.