Tuesday, July 1, 2008

What does "AMERICAN" mean?

Now that I am getting addicted to blogging like a too-old Hollywood child star getting hooked on meth, I am visiting lots of blog sites. I don't even know if that's what they're called, since I'm getting hooked so early and I am still a blog novice. Anyway, I visit lots of blogs. I read what people write. It makes me laugh. Sometimes it makes me think about myself. Mostly though, it just makes me realize how different I am from some people and how amazingly similar I am to others. This may seem like a no-brainer. But it never fails to amaze me how easy it is to find a friend online, but I have so much trouble creating friendships with people in real life. You should know that I was voted MOST OUTGOING in my senior class, which basically translates into "Most likely to do outrageous behavior in order to get attention". I sure hope that those who know me now would not remember me as "The annoying gal from the party who wouldn't shut up." But what constitutes as annoying? The answers are as different as people are different. Does having an opinion contrary to yours make me annoying? Again, I am so surprised when I visit websites what other people consider to be funny. Or exciting. Or even just appropriate.

One site I like, because of the author's wit and writing ability, is Crunchy Chicken. She lives in Seattle and is a certifiable tree-hugger. I question lots of what she says and if we lived on the same street I can't say I'd be her favorite person to hang out with. Especially after she saw all my plastic bags on the curb filled with baby diapers and non-recyclable trash. But she is very funny and she is really honest about herself and her views.

Another blog I subscribe to is KEEP BELIEVING, written by my best high-school gal-pal. She's a lot like me. Almost my twin ... my shorter, cuter, funnier, more fit twin. She also is honest about her life and the ups and downs. She's a serious Christian, like me, and not afraid to share her views. If I lived on her street, I can guarantee we would basically live at each other's houses because my sons are almost identical to her sons in personality and age. Plus I could raid her beer fridge and she'd be the perfect hostess.

One other blog I read is Ride the Waves of Life, and I think it is actually written by two people separately. Wherever they live the view is SPECTACULAR! One topic discussed there is homeschooling. I am a certified high-school teacher and I always wondered if I should try to homeschool my children. I saw and heard about all those moms who homeschooled their kids and the result was happy children, protected from the evils of the world, learning way above their grade level and being accepted for early admittance to Yale. Okay, maybe not that last one. But I always thought, maybe those moms just love their kids a little bit more that they can stand to be around them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Not me, no how. I love that my kids have to learn to listen to other adults besides me and my husband. I enjoy watching them participate in a school musical. I hang up their art projects on the refrigerator that I know I would never have been creative enough to teach them. I am not cutting myself down here; I am merely recognizing my own shortcomings. I know I am good at lots of things, better than some folks at one or two. But when it comes to teaching my own children, I will leave that to the professionals. It took me a long time to get past the whole "I don't love my kids enough to be around them constantly" thing. Now I understand that what I'm giving them is not time away from me but rather time with friends, time with other loving Christian people, time to learn how to be citizens in the world at large.

Now, it is close to the 4th of July, so I have been thinking about America. I mean, what does it really mean to be "AMERICAN"? Is an American defined as a person who fits the stereotype that other countries have of us? By that I mean: an overweight person driving a big gas-guzzling car, eating a Big Mac, having road rage, and when he/she gets home there is so much extra food for dinner that the overflow is simply thrown away. OR is an American defined as the new wave of our country: an Eco-Friendly pacifist who only rides a bike or walks (or drives the french-fry car), buys everything organic and sternly rejects the idea of organized religion in favor of free thought and worldwide tolerance and acceptance.

I have to be honest. Right now I do not like America. If I could move to another country with my family I would do it. Unfortunately I have too many anchors here in the United States to keep me from going - some good and some bad. My extended family is all here, my friends are here, my children have just started school, we've just bought a house, we don't know any other languages, etc. But living in America is chipping away at my heart, little by little. What happened to the America of years ago? Words like PRIDE, HONOR, SERVING YOUR COUNTRY, OBEY, and CITIZEN are becoming words to be mocked. The very thing that our country was founded on - freedom - is the thing that is going to tear us apart. Everyone is free to think whatever he or she wants, do whatever, be whomever, say whatever, and then some. If today I can burn an American Flag and hide behind freedom of speech, what is next? My opinion is that if you hate America so much, THEN MOVE SOMEWHERE ELSE AND HATE US IN A COUNTRY THAT DOESN'T SUPPORT YOU. The same people who burn flags are the ones who will collect social security when they are 70 and you can bet that they cashed that economic stimulus check last spring. I just can't help but hate those people who hate America.

But right there is exactly what I'm talking about: Do I hate them because they hate America, or do I hate them because they're different from me. Am I intolerant? Deep down, do I just want to live in a society where everyone thinks the same way I do? After all, that's anti-American, isn't it? I mean, wanting to exist in a world where freedom is quashed. I guess there is a boundary somewhere, like... you can have free thought about how much to pay for something, but not free thought about whether you will pay for it or not. I guess what really irks me is the people who claim to be free-thinkers, but really just want everyone to think like they do. The new Go Green movement reeks of antiestablishmentalism (is that a word?) but really it's just a movement toward a new establishment with its own set of rules and boundaries. Buy organic. Grow your own food but don't use pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Don't use air conditioning because of the leaks into the atmosphere. Buy a hybrid or alternate fuel car. Pay more for all these things to further support the movement. If you don't you're an enemy of the earth, destroying it for future generations. (insert growl here) BAD HUMAN!!!

So, is the blog world representative of America? I guess it is. For every interest and every niche there will surely be a blog that will feed that intellect. And before long I'm sure there will be blogs with questionable content (unless there are already - I'm just not aware yet). The internet is the new forum for free speech so undoubtedly those blogs will go uncensored and continue to promote the ideas of the masses, no matter how healthy or unhealthy they may be. God help us all. For now the best I can do is to just carefully choose my content and pray that I don't get too worked up the next time I hear some crazy inbreed spouting off at the mouth.

One last note: Here is an example of poor judgement when considering free speech. Last fall (2007) I went to a children's museum with my 3 kids while I was pregnant with my 4th. The kid-to-adult ratio there was about 4 to 1. My older two, SE and RS, can read pretty well by this time. One adult male, aged about 30, looked in his closet that evening and chose to wear a t-shirt that read "MAN WHORE". Now, of course, that idiot had the right of free speech to wear that t-shirt. He wasn't committing a hate crime. He wasn't endorsing violence. But what kind of person wears that shirt to a CHILDREN'S MUSEUM???? Very subtly I steered my children into another room away from the offending t-shirt and didn't have to answer the question, "Mommy, what does 'Man Whore' mean?"

God Bless the USA

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