Friday, July 04, 2014

Happy Birthday

The United States of America turns 238 years old today. Sounds old, right? It's a kid. Maybe a teenager. When you consider the age of many other countries, we are so young. Still learning. Sometimes too big for our britches. We look at our problems and think how bad they all are.

I took from the corporate table many years ago, then I gave back when I served in the military, and now I'm an entrepreneur with a growing company. I've been way up and way down. America has always had my back. I've never felt abandoned. I've never felt the weight of a government that wouldn't let me get back up. I've also been handed nothing along the way.

I think our biggest problem is that we think we are more grown up than we are. Remember when Lady Liberty used to be our mom. Sure she stood there welcoming everyone into her home. She offered to invite our friends and feed everyone and play good host, but we respected her, her rules and her home.

Now we are bratty teenagers who think we know better. People can just walk into our home uninvited. That's just rude. And I'm not saying we shouldn't let them in; but be polite. Ring the bell, wipe your feet and you're welcome to join us. On the other hand, just because someone wanders into the best party on Earth without an invite, we could be less rude about our reaction. I'm not taking a stand on immigration reform here. I'm talking about finding a middle.

We are tough enough to involve ourselves in the fights of other people and we stop bullies. That's noble, but we don't have to become the bully that pummels the original bully when the victim is safe. We share our wealth, our knowledge, our medicine, our strength. We are quick to buy a round of drinks for our friends, but we haven't learned how to do it without getting out of debt. We are the average 18-year old that disconnects between swiping the new credit card and paying the bill at the end of the month.

We are fickle about our friends. We jump from one BFF to another and often find ourselves ousting old friends. Maybe we fall out of love too quickly or maybe, on the other hand, we fall in love too quickly. Once upon a time we helped Afghanistan get rid of the Russians. In that time frame we've become friends with the Russians, stopped hanging out with Afghanistan, helped rebuild some of Afghanistan and stopped being friends with the Russians again.

Our sibling rivalry within ourselves is crazy. We are so individualized. We are constantly focusing so heavily on one thing, that all the other things fall to the wayside. We should probably zoom out a little, make a strategy and fix instead of acting like a bunch of kids on a soccer field chasing the ball in herds.

If you notice, all of the above is dual-sided. Because this isn't political. This isn't spawned by party lines. We do both sides. We are the most polarized we've ever been. And we think we're broken because of it. Our parents didn't think we were broken when we were American teenagers. They wanted to strangle us sometimes and hug us at other times and, probably, always prayed it was just a phase.

So, maybe this is just our phase. The information age has made us grow up faster than those around us. European countries took a thousand years to do what we've done in 238 of them. So maybe all these mistakes will come back to haunt us, we'll spend what is the same as many people's 20s recovering - repairing our credit, saving, figuring out what we want to be when we grow up - and sail into our 30s with a plan to make something of ourselves.

We are a large, diverse, sprawling, unique country. We have much to offer the world and the people in it. We just need to focus on how to do that right.

For all of its problems, I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. We may not be the best country in the world when you look at charts, but when you consider that much of the world comes here for a better life, you realize there's gotta be something to that.

Happy Birthday America. I support you. I thank you. I love you.