USAU-S-A! U-S-A! In spite of the struggles of our nation, the three letters, U-S-A still evoke a deep sense of pride and belonging for many of us. This 4th of July weekend as we perhaps adjust our holiday plans because of COVID-19, we can still celebrate our beloved nation with raucous chanting of “U-S-A, U-S-A!”

The Grass Is Not Greener

I have been fortunate through my writing endeavors to stretch my rural Midwest roots into nearly 20 countries worldwide. England. Italy. Russia. Poland. Hungary. Germany. The Philippines. In my various times crisscrossing the planet and enjoying incredible cultures and people, I have never once wanted to remain in these countries. Nope. Nada.

Let me share a secret with you: the grass is not greener outside of the United States. The grass is green mixed with some patches of brown in every nation in the world. No country is perfect, and as much as we think the good ‘ol USA is some utopian paradise, we have only to look around and see that we are not entirely impeccable.

Another secret? America never will attain this stature. No society on Earth ever will. And it’s okay. We are still colossally blessed with riches and advances, and perhaps most important of all, FREEDOM.

America Is Still Home

I’ve recently talked with several people who lived much of their lives in nations that squelched their speech, their possessions, and their inner spirit. Living in a 12-foot by 16-foot shanty with severe food scarcity does a number on your body and your mind. Add in a murderous regime to kill you if you step out of line, and you eventually sink into demoralized despair.

As challenging as our lives can get here in America at times, the overwhelming majority of us will never experience shanty-and-starvation living under cruel dictatorial rule. For that, we can be grateful. America is far from perfect, but America is still home. And home is sweet when you consider living in other less-than-perfect countries.

America Is Far from Perfect

So this weekend when you wear your red, white, and blue and fire up the grill and savor holiday favorites, stop a minute and reflect. Is America still worth celebrating? Does our nation in spite of its foibles and fiascos, still deserve our respect? Our gratitude?USA

After two months living in the Congo jungles in the summer of 1983, when my plane landed at LAX, I truly did want to kiss the American soil or the runway concrete. (I think I waited to smooch my living room carpet.) There is no place like home. I don’t think we need Dorothy or Toto to remind us.

Our Land of Liberty still offers us countless liberties. Our Land of Opportunity still provides incredible opportunities that many other peoples and nations would die for . . . and do. Let’s not allow anything—pandemic viruses, racial unrest, economic turmoil, and political quarreling—rob of us of remembering this.

America is still great while being far from perfect. America’s grass is green with patches of brown. And, I for one, will always feel a deep sense of pride and belonging whenever I hear chants of three simple letters. “U-S-A, U-S-A!” Do you?