July 2007 Editorial Winner
Proud to be an American
By Jeff Mullin, Enid News & Eagle
A lot of people in the world don't like America.
That's what they tell pollsters from the Pew Research Center, at least.
America's approval rating dropped from 75 percent in Great Britain in 2002 to 51 percent in 2007, according to the survey.
In Germany the drop was from 60 percent five years ago, to 30 percent now, while the drop in Mexico was from 64 to 56 percent.
And, of course, in the Muslim world, we just aren't well-liked at all.
Many people in other countries think the U.S. doesn't consider their interests when it formulates foreign policy, they worry our customs are hurting their countries and they think the U.S. contributes to the gap between rich and poor nations.
The survey was even conducted in this country, and 18 percent of Americans polled say they have an unfavorable view of our nation.
Throughout much of the world, however, American culture and technology are widely admired, and many people believe they can have a better life by moving to the U.S.
That's the trouble with being the richest, most powerful and freest nation on earth - you are a target of emotions ranging from hatred to unabashed admiration.
Nobody said the rest of the world has to like us, but they had darn sure better respect us.
America is the country the world turns to in times of trouble, and we respond.
Americans are the most generous people on the planet, according to the Giving USA Foundation. In 2006, Americans gave more than $295 billion, or 1.7 percent of the nation's gross domestic product. The next closest nation, Great Britain, gave 0.73 percent of its GDP.
The war in Iraq is unpopular both at home and abroad, but our elected leaders have deigned it necessary for us to be there, so our fighting men and women will stay and do their jobs until ordered home.
The Pew poll finds many nations with favorable views of the U.S., including Venezuela, whose leader, Hugo Chavez, is an avowed Communist and friends with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
We have a 56 percent approval rating in that country.
Americans can't agree on much of anything, from politics to sports to entertainment, so why should we expect the rest of the world to always agree with us or about us?
Of course we are free to disagree, with each other and our government. But one wonders if the people in some of the nations that don't like us are free to disagree with their own governments?
We will celebrate our 231st birthday today, with picnics, parades and pyrotechnics.
Among some nations we are a mere adolescent, still experiencing the pains of growth and development.
We also are the beacon of hope in nations struggling through the darkness of tyrrany, the symbol of freedom, justice and equality in a world where those qualities often are in short supply, the benchmark of courage and selflessness in countries racked by hatred and despair.
We are America, like us or not, and we are proud and free. We pray someday all nations could say the same.
Posted on Sun, July 15, 2007