I love this country. It has been a beacon of hope and survival for millions. Many of us have a standard of living that is astonishing to the rest of the world. We are a continental nation that has two oceans bordering us, deserts, beautiful mountains, fertile farmland, a diversity of climates and natural resources within our borders. Most Americans are habitually optimistic. We are blessed by accident or natural providence - take your preference.
At the same time, this writer cringes when my fellow citizens say we are the greatest nation. To me this can be read to many outside our borders as mere arrogance and possibly superiority. It also eliminates or minimizes fundamental debate about serious flaws in our society, political and economic life. Exclaiming this country has the best health care system does not make the fact that most European countries and a few Latin American countries have lower infant mortality rates. Many European countries have better life expectancy rates. Most European countries have better industrial safety rate statistics. All western European countries have better financial assistance for the unemployed. We are not Europeans and most of us dread socialism and yet we need to face reality and debate an American solution to the crying needs of our citizens.
I am saddened by the recent mine disaster in West Virginia. I am ashamed that there has not been a cry for more unionization of the mines in this country and that most American politicians, religious leaders, and commentators are not questioning the effectiveness of current government safety regulations. The Massey corporation is fiercely antiunion and has had multiple violations and citations, and fines and yet there has been no serious effort to force this corporation to meet its basic social responsibility to have the safest working conditions it can provide. As of today, April 9, 2010, there has not been a serious condemnation of the horrendous violation of law by this corporation. I am ashamed and saddened that many American families grieve today because their loved one or friend went to work.