7/04/2011

Independence Daydreaming

Today is July 4th, a day of special significance here in the U.S. It's a day on which we go to barbecues, drink too much, set off small explosives in dry climates causing untold fire damage, and generally celebrate what it means to be an American.

It's supposedly also the day on which we declared our independence from the evil overlords, our good friends in England.

(That day was also significant because it was the last time that any committee came to any decision on anything, a feat much greater in significance than the actual declaration of independence. Bureaucrats the world over rejoiced this act, then went back to debating important matters of process and lunch menus).

It is my country's independence which I wish to celebrate today. I'm thinking about some of the things that Americans can be thankful for, which could not have happened if we hadn't cast off the yoke of monarchical oppression and donned, instead, the yoke of democratic stalemate that has dominated our political scene ever since.

Here are some of the things that I am thankful for, which could not have happened without our teenage rebellion:

Driving on the right: This confuses me every time I’m in England, the way that everyone is driving on the wrong side of the road. Thank the founding fathers that we don’t have to do it here. Besides the sheer ridiculousness of the habit, it would totally mismatch our cars, which are manufactured with the steering wheels on the left. I'm convinced that this change has saved countless lives and allowed us to be the much lazier drivers that we are.

The weather: Some U.S. states are cold, some are hot, most have varying weather (except Hawaii, the lucky bastards). But none of the states have weather quite as miserable as that in most of England. Who knows what our weather would be like if we’d remained part of the kingdom? Probably something more like Seattle, except without their three days of Summer.

Criminals: Australia, a penal colony (insulting in both purpose and name) inherited the criminals of Jolly Olde England (much jollier for having gotten rid of the convicts). The same thing may have happened to us, which would have been awful because our prisons are already filled to capacity.

Coffee: Say what you want about tea, but there’s nothing as satisfying in the morning as a strong cup of coffee. Tea’s okay every now and then, especially when served with scones or those little tiny sandwiches (how small or their mouths in England?). But on July 4th, we established a democracy upon the firm foundation of coffee. And Starbucks franchising opportunities.

Oh, Canada: Without our stalwart presence below Canada, that ridiculously large land mass would come crashing down on the helpless Caribbean islands and fragile spine of Mexico and Central America. But beyond this important physical support role, our great nation also acts as an important filter between Canada and Mexico, limiting the flow of illegal immigrants coming up from below and illegally reasonably-priced prescription drugs from above. Without these United States, these nations would quibble about these border disputes instead of leaving the quibbling to us. Quibbling is our national pastime, one of the founding principals of the country. Why else would we have established the quibble-maximizing two-party system that drives our elections and daily political discourse?

Language: Many visitors to our country make the same simple mistake: that we speak the same language as those in England. It may sound the same (minus the stuffy accents, ‘cause we’re all jus' common folk here), but it has enough critical differences that make our languages as different as, say, American English and Canadian, eh? In particular, we changed elements that made the language just too darned difficult, like the extraneous ‘u’ in ‘colour’ and the regular use of large words that nobody would ever really use. English would never have achieved the world-wide usage that it has today without these important changes. And without that important adoption of our language, we'd travel even less than we do today, because understanding other languages is just really, like, hard.

These are some my favorite things about our free and independent nation. What are yours?
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