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Once upon a time I lived in a land I was unquestionably proud of. The National Anthem would play and I would stand with my hand on my heart, my head held high, and tears in my eyes. I truly believed that truth and justice were the American way. My eyes have been opened to unhappy truths. Questions have been raised. Some of them have ugly answers.

Many blame the current World climate and the status of America on George Bush and Co. Others blame it on the bombing of the Twin Towers. Or the Taliban. Or Osama Bin Laden, himself. Most blame in on a combination of all of the above. I disagree on ALL counts.

If you want someone to blame for the opinion the rest of the world holds of Americans step to your window and look out at your city streets. Do you see people reaching out, helping and taking care of one another? Do you see people stepping out of their SUVs to conserve fuel for things like heat and electricity? Do you see people cleaning up the streets, or dumping garbage without care?

Are there recycling bins on every corner? Is an active effort being made to conserve and preserve? What have you done to become more green at your house?

If you want someone to blame for the opinion the rest of the world holds of Americans step into your bathroom and look into the mirror — and then start questioning. What is it you can do to help? One thing I hope you are certain to do — a lesson Americans should have learned because it came at a very high cost — is to vote, and do so with deliberation and caution.

Am I still proud to be an American? Yes, most of the time, but I would like to be even more proud. I would like to be once again a citizen of a nation that the rest of the world looks up to — not out of fear, but because the world is better for our being in it.

Happy Birthday America. May your future find you living up to your promise of allegiance of life, liberty and justice for ALL.

Quilly is the pseudonym of Charlene L. Amsden, who lives on The Big Island in Hawaii. When she is not hanging out with Amoeba, she is likely teaching or sewing. Or she could be cooking, taking photographs, or even writing. But if she's not doing any of that, she's probably on Facebook or tinkering with her blog.


  1. I’m still proud to be an American. It is still the country most people want to live in.

    About the green part…well, we have been recycling for years. In our city now it is mandatory and papers, glass and tin cans are picked up weekly. That not only saves for things to be recycled, but saves area in our landfill.
    We planted a garden this year. I doubt that would be considered a “green” action, but we had tomatoes that were safe to eat.

    Were we live in Texas the public transportation system is dreadful. If I were to take one of the humongus buses to try to get to a local mall, I would have to catch the bus then go downtown, then get a transfer and catch another bus to get to a mall that is less than 5 miles from where I live.

    We were going to purchase a Prius last year, but I didn’t really like the setup of the dashboard. In order to change the setting on say the a/c you have to take your total attention away from the road and look at a touch screen. My car gets about 20 mpg in the city and we got nearly 30mpg when we went to Houston a few weeks ago. Right now we are waiting for a car that gets decent mileage and makes sense. Most things in Texas are not in easy walking distance.

    I understand where you are coming from on this, and just wanted you to know what we are doing to consume less and save more. Also, we stopped taking the newspaper. It cost $180 per year and we rarely read anything but the ads. That ain’t right.

  2. Perspective is key. Overall, pride in citizenship has declined. We are told to be more accepting of all other cultures and end up putting down our own. We are more resourceful and conserve more than ever at this time in America but from watching the news you’d think we have tremendously declined. You and I most likely won’t change the world. But we can change our own world and our vision of it. One of the things I’m most looking forward to this next school year is the 5th grade social studies curriculum-U.S. History. I want my students to be proud of themselves and their culture. But I also want them to love THIS country and be proud of how far we have come. If they are citizens, I want them to be proud of it. If they are not yet citizens, I want them to desire it. Have you ever seen someone being sworn in as a brand new U.S. citizen? It’s a beautiful thing.

    Enjoy your 4th. Enjoy your country. You’re in such a beautiful place to do so! 🙂

  3. oh…I just had to come back….we bought some of those curly lightbulbs, well, I tried them in the house and took them out because they made the room look greenish….not the best ambience at least to me, so we took those back and got a smaller wattage to put outside, because we leave the porch lights on and the patio light on…it is a safety thing. Now we have found out the curly little lights that were going to save the world have a lot of mercury in them. That ain’t right, either. I don’t have a clue how we will dispose of them by the time the go out.

  4. very well said. i’m in total agreement, and that is odd, because i usually don’t agree with people just quite so willingly. oh wait – that is part of the problem. okay, i promise to agree with more people.

    have a nice 4th. i got wished one at work. but they didn’t give me the day off. jerks. (kidding)

  5. Great post. I’ve noticed my peers are very uncomfortable and sometimes cranky with this type of conversation.
    I’ve always been a flag waver, we’ve never bought a car that wasn’t American made, nearly all my clothes and furniture are Made in America. I’ve learned keep my fervent opinions about supporting my neighborhood/town/country to myself, because it’s not always met with support or even kindness…that makes me really sad.
    By the way, I’ve nearly been run over by crazed American drivers when I’ve stopped to help someone in distress…that is sooooo not how my mama raised me.

  6. America has never lived up to its promise, its vision. its dream. It continues to act against its own best interest. But the wonderful thing is that because we are a free people we keep lifting up the dream. We keep calling for America to keep the promise. It staggers in that direction. It gets lost and we call it back. The price of being an American is to keep the dream alive. To keep demanding, begging, pleading that we move in the right direction. To keep the vision of equality and justice, mercy and kindness always in front of us. Not because other nations will think well of us but because it is our dream, our vision and we owe it all those who went before to carry on.

  7. Yay Quilly! I find I used to be a lot MORE proud too… and we do a great deal, but we could still do more. I’m not sure I agree with Amberstar that MOST people want to live here though. I’m not sure that ever WAS the case. Fortunately! Can you imagine what our immigration would be like if MOST of the world wanted to live here??? Whew! It’s always been a place for the down & outs to come and make a BETTER life for themselves. And I think what aggravates a good many of us, is that the down and outs STILL want to come here and make a better life — but they want us to CHANGE for them! I’m not sure that’s what should be happening. If they want to come, let ’em come — but accept US and our country the way we are! It’s why they wanted to come to begin with! But I definitely DO agree that we should be doing a lot more reaching out, a lot more lifting up, and lot more greening!

  8. Good stand Quilly and I completely agree. Americans in general spend much time pointing fingers and not looking in the mirror and I think that is the gest of your post.
    We have been recycling for a while and recently our neightborhood was giventhe huge recycle cans to replace the small box containers. It makes it even more simple to do.

  9. you know, i’m not much for ‘very important days’, be they holidays or anniversaries or any such stuff (we had our independence day just 10 – actually 9 – days ago and i haven’t mentioned it anywhere) but this was rather wonderful. i only wish more people would think the same way.
    thumbs up!

  10. That’s a great post Quilly, but it does not only apply to Americans. Out here in Belgium, we should take the same lesson, and change the same things!
    Happy Independence Day!

  11. Hey Quilly, I was already by today, but wanted to let you know there is something waiting for you on my post today

  12. Brian — one for all, not ALL FOR ME!

    Bill — thank you.

    Amber — OC commutes 2.5 hours one way on the bus going to and from work. He says even with the wasted time, it is both healthier earth-wise and more cost effective than driving.

    Holly — ease up there, don’t get all rampant with your agreeing. The world needs its snarks, too.

    Shelly — I am not as green as I should be, but I am working on it. Good job on your share!

    Dr. John — that is an awesome speech and deserves front page billing!

    So, Melli — , did you write this before or after you filled the gas tank on your SUV? 😉 Actually, I have no complaints about SUVs per se. My complaint is that they are status symbols of extravagance — and waste. [But I know you didn’t buy yours so folks will think you are important and wonderful. You’d still be that without it!]

    Jules — I wish this island were a little more recycle conscious. You’d think it would be since the space is finite.

    Juliana — to me important days are milestones — and isn’t the purpose of a milestone for stopping to take stock of one’s progress? That’s what I do with them, anyway.

    Kila — welcome back. I totally agree.

    Jientje — I agree. I think conservation should be a world-wide concern. I also think the one nation which claims to be concerned with the welfare of the world should be spearheading the effort, not living highest on the hog and producing the most waste.

    Andrew — Thank you. No wish to share an opinion of your own?

    Bill — thanks, I’ll be by tomorrow!

  13. It’s hard for me to comment on America, since I’m Australian. I only know that we encountered lovely people when we visited you (as you would if you visited here). And I would like to say that, although our countries are imperfect, they’re still much better to live in than others we could mention! I write about Australia (and other quirky things) in my very new Blog Rinkly Rimes.
    I hope you’ll visit me.
    Brenda Bryant

  14. I ranted on this subject the other day. Many people are happy to blame businesses for the high gas prices and the government for- well, everything. My very first comment said that “living beyond our means is the American way” and I cringed.

    I would like to say that I do my part. I would like to, but I’m trying not to lie. What I can say in all honesty is that I’m trying, and I’m going to keep trying. Grow as much as I can on my little balcony, cut my driving by 90%, plan my meals around foods I can find at the farmer’s market so that there isn’t the cost of transporting those foods across the country, aim for low energy appliances when I have the choice… It’s not enough.

  15. Brenda — you’ve been visited.

    Brig — I’m not doing enough, either. I did attempt grocery shopping for a month (except for perishables). I have a garden on my lanai (finally). And we recycle as much as this state makes convenient. Living in a tourist economy is what raises my hackles. I see whole scale waste on a daily basis and some days I just snap. Also, there is what seems to me to be a disproportionate ratio of SUVs on the road, especially for a place that requires very limited need for such things.

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