I once framed a pretty card that read, “A true friend is one who overlooks your broken down gate and admires the flowers in your window.” At first glance, this seems trite, but it makes sense. It does not suggest that the friend doesn’t notice our flaws, or pretends that everything is fine and then goes off to talk about it with the neighbors. A friend recognizes our faults but looks past them to appreciate our good points.
That is how I feel about the United States. Although I am frequently dismayed by decisions made at all levels of government, I live in freedom. I can say and write what I think without fear of arrest (or worse). I can pass through its borders at will, travel anywhere, and live in any neighborhood that I can afford. In an emergency, I can call for the police, firemen or an ambulance and know that help will arrive within minutes. Grocery stores are bursting with food, and potable water flows out of almost every faucet. Dependable electrical current powers my lights and refrigerator, and I heat my home in the winter with the flick of a switch. If I can’t afford it, there are programs that will provide assistance. When I’m dissatisfied with something, I can contact my councilman, congressman, senator and even the president, and if the results are unsatisfactory, I can vote them out of office.
People in the United States do not crouch half-naked on street corners begging for food. Heavily armed soldiers are not a part of daily life, and abandoned orphans don’t sleep in the gutters. Things are not perfect, and no one would deny that there are flaws in the system, but they are outweighed by the positives that make our country what it is.
A friend sees our gate dragging in the grass, but looks past it to appreciate the beauty of our yard. Sometimes, they’ll even try to help fix things.