I realized today that this is the fourth 4th I’ve spent outside the US. The first was when I was in Ireland for the summer of 2007, and the other three are the last few years which I’ve spent in Canada. Earlier this week was Canada Day (July 1) which is like the Fourth of July but with only red and white and no blue.
I have mixed feelings about the US as I do about most things (I’m an overthinker). It is a country that I’ve watched turn away my friends and loved ones while others cross the border illegally every day. But it is my homeland, and I am grateful to the US for all of its great qualities: its diverse landscapes and peoplescapes, its refusal to be anything but itself.
I am also grateful to Canada for the opposite reason. It is content to be another country in the world without having to claim it is the only country in the world. It cohabits the continent and the world like a friendly neighbor who offers you a cup of sugar before you have to ask. On the other hand, the US wants to build fences along its borders to keep the neighbors the hell off its lawn while it continues to invade other neighborhoods (usually with good intention) – it is a statement that says “what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine as well.”
Sometimes this concerns me, like when I see the buzzfeed lists of why America is the greatest country ever. I know its a joke, but I also know it isn’t. And I saw a similar post about why Canada is better than the US this Canada Day and that concerned me too. As Canada grows and matures, is it hitting the adolescent arrogance of the US?
With age and time comes perspective. I sometimes miss not living at the center stage of the world, the focus of the universe, having access to all the stores and websites and getting everything first. (Those of you reading this in the US–you wouldn’t believe the reputation of coveted things like “American Netflix” which has access to more and better shows and movies than its lesser versions around the world.) But I’ve never really liked being at the center of attention, which is why I write my words more often than I speak them.
There is something to be said for the grandness that is America. While anyone or anything claiming to be the greatest in the world makes me wary at best, today is a day to put those feelings aside and remember what a great country the US truly is. It birthed most of the wonderful people I know and love. I must remind myself that that adolescent arrogance has lessons to teach me about pride and confidence and taking ownership myself and what I hold dear.
So today I put my overthinking and my mixed feelings aside, and I say, “Happy Fourth of July!”