My gift

Happy birthday, America.

Few things simultaneously stimulate both my optimism and cynicism the way you do.  It makes sense, since you are the summation of your citizens, that what I despise of humanity I also despise of you.  Human beings are capable of so much, but so frequently we squander our potential by taking the easy route.  Rather than helping others, we pray.  Rather than learning, we assign god as an answer.  Rather than applying our perspicacity to the problem of morality, we dredge up some of the worst ideas from some of humanity’s most ignorant times and resurrect them in the 21st century.  Yet for all humanity’s shortcomings, we have displayed the ability to bend the universe to our will.  We have split the atom.  We have found ways to annihilate disease.  We have defied gravity.  At their zenith, our power as homo sapiens is god-like.  It is a pity that the majority of humans are lethargic in faith rather than empowered by their humanity.

And such is my disappointment with you, America.  As one of the world’s most resource-rich nations, you are capable of so much.  Sadly, underachieving humans are your blood, and our diseases of mind are contagious to you.  Rather than helping others, including your own tired, your own poor, your own huddled masses, your resources continually go to make the rich richer, resulting in a financial inequality between the haves and the have nots unrivaled almost anywhere else in the world.

Your power is a monument to the profitability of knowledge.  We assumed the power to sunder the Earth and used it to end a war.  On July 20th, 1969, we were the first to reach heaven’s door when we found the means to traverse space.  With your wealth America, and your ascent on the back of ingenious ideas, you should be a world leader in education.  But instead you’re the middle of the road and slipping toward the bottom.  Instead of ripping the necessary resources away from those growing wealthier by comparison to the majority of your citizens every month and empowering the next generation with more developed minds through education, we pray for success.  I can understand if many of your citizens don’t see this for what it is: giving up, but I want so much more from you, America.

As you have been in the past, you are slow recognize basic human rights for minorities.  Still it is for the same reasons: the idea of a nation that protects the rights of the few from the tyranny of the majority exists only within a system of leaders that must appease the majority, and the majority believe that the same god who demanded the slaughter of those working on Saturday, who considers a morally sound man as one willing to gut his offspring, should dictate their moral conclusions, and therefore your legal conclusions, about how people elect to love.  You are sick because we are sick.

Still, I am enamored with your potential and the ideas upon which you are based America, even if they’re not presently what you are.  So here is a birthday gift.  It is the best someone on my end of the of the American income line can do.  Besides, I always thought hand-made gifts were the best anyway.  I will give you another year of my life.  When I am admonished to love America, with all its flaws neatly intact, or leave it, I will not simply sigh, cast my vote, and call it a day.  Instead, in your defense, I will put in the effort to be informed, to formulate my opinions as the product of research and fact rather than as a substitute for them, and I will eviscerate those people who, in the process of taking the easy intellectual route, rob you of your potential.  When, for lack of any real knowledge on a subject, they offer the support of god as a reason for their unreasonable positions, I will not resign behind some weak justification like ‘believers will never change their minds’.  No, I will work toward the catharsis of all bad ideas as well as the institutions that insulate them, and I will continue to chip away at the carapace of faith knowing full well that it harbors irrational ideas, the miasma that binds us to mediocrity, and nurtures them.

It would take an ignorance of history the size of Texas to believe that America has no blood on its hands for what we’ve done in the past.  You’ve made mistakes America, but so have we all.  Absolution comes from being willing to put in the effort to self-correct and to pay the price for redemption.  There are many who believe you should never apologize, that you are perfect the way you are.  I will work to make the public an unkind place to them.  I hope you appreciate it, since it’s all I can do for you.

Til next year.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com Ani Sharmin

    “It would take an ignorance of history the size of Texas to believe that America has no blood on its hands for what we’ve done in the past. You’ve made mistakes America, but so have we all. Absolution comes from being willing to put in the effort to self-correct and to pay the price for redemption. There are many who believe you should never apologize, that you are perfect the way you are. I will work to make the public an unkind place to them. I hope you appreciate it, since it’s all I can do for you.”

    I love this paragraph. Happy 4th, and I hope your birthday present makes this country a better place.

  • http://raisinghellions.wordpress.com/ Lou Doench

    Happy 4th… I know yungun’s like yourself are the best gift our country could hope for.


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