Hugo Chavez, this week, trying to make a case for why Cuba should not be excluded from The Summit of the Americas, remarked, “There is more democracy in Cuba than in the United States.”
Hard to say. I can report, though, that you can’t go anywhere in these United States of America right now without encountering often heated discussion related to things like the rights of the individual…personal privacy…government intervention…presidential bailouts and state takeovers…taxation…representation…
As my just-turned-20-year-old daughter, living in Annapolis, Maryland, remarked the other day, “I think another revolution is coming.”
This country was founded and built in the spirit of exploration and discovery. Americans are optimists and romantics. A better life awaits just over the next hill or around the next bend.
We’ve always believed that.
Right now, that next bend in the road may just lead to a place beyond U.S. borders. And that’s ok.
“What do you think of President Obama?” asked a young niece over dinner the other evening.
Before I could reply, an elder member of the family spoke up: “Oh, what’s it to her? She’s moved on.”
Yes, about 11 years ago now, I relocated outside these borders, but I’m still an American, and I’ve felt a bit defensive, I have to admit, when my family this week has sometimes suggested otherwise.
I’m concerned about what’s going on in this country today. I do wonder and worry what will happen next.
But I also recognize that my speculation and anxiety are a waste of time.
In Panama, we don’t have television. Here, in the States, I can’t escape it. Everywhere I go, Fox News is reporting more economic trouble and greater financial disaster.
It can begin to seem as though the whole world has gone crazy.
Here’s my advice: Turn off the television. The world is going through a rough patch right now, but things are not bad all over.
It’s a matter of perspective. Shift yours.
The world is changing.
But people…we’re the same. We’re the same as those who voyaged from England three-plus centuries ago to populate those first 13 colonies that developed into these United States…we’re the same as those who, some years later, sought to take their leave from King George, asking the British crown for the freedom of self-determination…
Exploring new options…seeking out new opportunities…moving on for a better life…
Three-and-a-half centuries ago, these pursuits led rag-tag bands of adventurers and freedom-seekers to what today is the East Coast of a troubled nation.
If today these pursuits lead you to a place beyond U.S. borders, that doesn’t make you any less American.
I’d argue that these pursuits are perhaps the most fundamentally “American” ideas of all.