Before I sign off and head out for the summer, I have one last post. I’m not leaving quite yet, but I don’t think I’ll have any more time to blog before I go.
Some readers got pissed off at my sarcastic message about the US the other day, so let me explain my views. I think patriotism is too close to nationalism to be safe; both are just souped up versions of tribalism. These things lead to “us versus them” thinking and to conflict being preferred over cooperation. It’s OK to love your country. But to be proud just because you were born somewhere is ridiculous. To ignore the flaws of your country and to refuse to criticize your government is dumb. And to think your country is the only great (free, safe, healthy, etc.) nation in the world is just delusional.
First, one thing I do love about America is that we still have freedom of speech, including the freedom to offendÂ (thank goodness, because I would have to crawl in a hole if I was not allowed to be offensive).Â
That said, for those who believe what they learned in first grade (or in the military) about the US being #1 in everything, here are some stats to think about:
- The US is #7 on the World Audit Democracy ranking
- The World Health Organization places the US at #37 in health care quality
- The US is tied with Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovakia for the worst infant death rate in the modern nations
- A 2006 Corruption Perceptions Index ranks the US in 20th place and “a significant worsening in perceived levels of corruption”
- On the Environmentally Sustainability Index we are #26
- In the Programme for International Student Assessment we are #24 in math, #9 in science, #7 in reading, and #20 in problem solving
- The US is #44 in Press Freedom (First Amendment anyone?)
- According to the World Economic Forum the US fell from #1 to #7 in Network Readiness
- We are, however, #1 in Global Competitiveness, up from #6 last year
Not all of these are bad rankings, but I wasn’t searching for reports that just show the US is doing badly. I searched for “US ________ ranking” and this is what came up in Google.Â Try it yourself and see what you find.Â I haven’t checked out the sources on all of these rankings, but I just wanted to show that it’s not immediately obvious to everyone on the planet that the US is the greatest country in the world.Â
You know what? It’s OK not to be #1 in everything or anything. We don’t need to be a super power. We don’t need to constantly prove that we are better than everyone else. That’s just a sign of insecurity. That just leads to being a bully. Why can’t the US be happy — like everyone else is — just to be good? Why do we always have to convince ourselves that we are great, the greatest? Our collective arrogance is one of the things I hate about the US.
If some of you are still pissed off because I have the nerve to be honest and say something very unpopular about the US, I don’t care. It’s long past time to be skeptical about patriotism. Â
Now, I’m going on a blogging break until I get back in August. Have a great summer and I’ll see you all in a few months!
P.S. Regarding me being emotional, not skeptical enough, etc. I’ve written about that several times before, so you newbies who are curious can check it out: