Celebrating USA

So the economy is down in the doldrums, still. The miracles we expected when Obama was elected President, did not quite happen. At least not yet. There is an oil spill in the gulf. Unemployment is high. Houses in our neighbourhood have not sold for for a while.

But yet this Fourth of July, I want to pause and take some time to celebrate USA. Simply because I like living here. I like the value people attach to the Constituition. I appreciate the emphasis on freedom of speech, and of the sheer diversity of views, not unlike what we have in India in some ways.

My first exposure to what USA really is happened back in India, through the STAR Network serial of LA Law. Other than the glamorous outfits of the women lawyers, the thing that most appealed to me about that show was the emphasis on upholding the law, respecting people’s rights. I loved learning about the first amendment, the second amendment. And then began my fascination with law serials which continued through an overdose of Law and Order.

When I got here, I loved working in an office that had people from all over the world, from different backgrounds, who spoke different dialects to their families. I liked learning about different cultures and what they bring to the US.

For a while, after Sep 11 it seemed that the spirit of US had changed. Several ‘random’ security checks, including one in which a guy opened my mascara, lipstick and eye-liner as part of a check did that to me. I felt people were no longer being themselves. I had friends who were Sikhs July 4and shaved their heads. I had friends who were Indian and decided they would only wear Saris and not Salwar Kameez in fear of being mistaken for being Muslim.

But I think now it has become more of a security issue than a discrimination one. Or maybe I have seen other dimensions of the US and have moved beyond it.

Now I love the way people still speak their minds. How a president can be criticized and eugolized on two different channels the same day. How I can go to a gas station and fill up my own car. How I can get government services without bribes.

So the fourth of July I want to celebrate US and all the good that it stands for. And I will teach my sons who are Americans to do the same.

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