Loving liberty through protest, question

By Bret Clevenger

I have an amazing hobby, I like to complain. Specifically, I like to complain about what’s wrong with America. It’s just what I do. Frankly, it’s why I love my job as a columnist so much.

I don’t think I’m the only person who enjoys passing time complaining about the state of our nation. In fact, I think everyone, every once in awhile, likes to critique the parts of our nation’s society, culture or government, which they deem wrong.

This complaining epidemic isn’t simply a trait of being a liberal or a conservative, either. People on the left and right are usually complaining about the same things, just from different perspectives.

The love for nit-picking we Americans have isn’t a bad thing, though. It’s actually a very good thing. It’s what keeps our nation in check. If enough people complain, there has to be a change.

Sometimes I think Americans lose sight of the bigger picture when they start to point out the downfalls of our nation.

I’m just as guilty of this as anyone else.

I get frustrated with the Patriot Act, and the obscene amount of obscenity on my television and I start pondering just how much it would cost me to move somewhere less frustrating.

I’ve always found Madagascar interesting and I imagine it doesn’t have too many political issues that would cause my blood pressure to spike.

Then I stop, take a breath, and remember: All in all, I really am living in one of the great countries in the world, with a spectacular collage of people. I think we all need to take the time to remember this.

This isn’t to put down any other nation in the world. There are most certainly wonderful people outside the borders of the United States.

Yet the fact remains – America is a place to be proud of.

If you’re looking for a place to find your patriotism, look no further than the birth of our nation. The Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights. Specifically, look at the First Amendment. It’s the one you see right at the top of the “Perspective” section of this newspaper.

Go ahead, read it.

Among other things, what you just read gives me the right to come onto this page and say pretty much anything I please.

Just as importantly, it gives you the right to say anything you please. That’s pretty special. It’s not very often you can make some awful claims against the people in charge and get away with it.

Imagine if you posted a Web site devoted entirely to mocking your boss. You’d probably get in some deep trouble. Yet, that’s exactly what www.whitehouse.org is allowed to do – mock our boss. This is just one, very obvious site that mocks our government. There are thousands more sites like that out there. It’s amazing, when you think about it.

Just last week there was a group of about 200,000 people amassed in Washington, D.C. to protest our president. Whether or not you agree with the protesters is irrelevant. The Washington Post reported the protesters’ march, “launched from the Ellipse south of the White House, began shortly after 1 p.m. Protesters planned to cross in front of the White House, a few blocks north, and then traverse the city.” You have to admit protesting in the capital, just across the street from the man you’re criticizing, without fear, is an exhilarating freedom.

Not only did our founding fathers set us up with some pretty unique and amazing freedoms, but we as a people should be proud of ourselves.

Everyone knows America is the world’s melting pot. Take one look around campus and it’s plain to see we’re a beautiful array of backgrounds brought together into one vivid and vivacious culture.

It’s a paradox, but we’re a culture based on multi-culturalism.

There’s one thing all American’s have in common   – compassion. Our individual compassion comes in forms both small and large. Sometimes our compassion only comes out in times of great need. It comes out in times like 9/11, when $2.2 billion in donations were collected. It comes out in times like the present – as our collective national heart pours out to the hurricane victims in the South, and we all do what we can to help. Already, hurricane relief donations have reached $1.3 billion according to The Associated Press.

We as a nation are something to be proud of.

This is just a few examples of things we have to be proud of as Americans. I could go on and on with more, but instead I challenge you to think of them yourself.

Next time some great injustice has your blood boiling, remember there’s a million reasons to be proud, to pledge allegiance to the flag and to the nation for which it stands. Whether it’s under one god or not is up to you and that’s the wonderful thing.

Columns reflect the opinion of the author and not necessarily that of the Northern Star staff.