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“The Greatest Country in the World” revisited

Dear U.S. Citizens,

I don’t claim to speak for everyone, of course, but from the perspective of this particular Canadian, I thought you might be interested to know that at least a few of us north of your border are alternately confused, offended, amused, and turned off when we hear you and your politicians refer to the U.S. as “The Greatest Country in the World.”

I totally get that you love your country. And I understand that you’re proud to be an American. I don’t necessarily relate to your particular brand of patriotism… here in Canada we’re much quieter and far less demonstrative when it comes to that sort of thing… but I appreciate your fervor and passion (and, if I’m honest, wish we had a little more of it here in my country).

But… the greatest? Honestly?

I’m very happy living in Canada, and I love its unique character, attributes, and benefits. That said, I think I could be equally happy living elsewhere and appreciating that country’s particular ethos. But no matter where I lived, no matter how wonderful I might think it was, I can’t imagine being either naive, insecure, or arrogant enough to presume that it was the greatest country in the world. Pretty darn wonderful, yes. The most familiar and comfortable to me, yes. Preferable to me over another country, even. But… the greatest?

EarthI’m sorry, but I just don’t get it.

We live in a big, beautiful world, my friends, where there is no need for superlatives like “greatest” to label one particular chunk of land or group of people. Be proud of your country, yes… but at the same time open your minds, expand your horizons, and be secure enough in what’s great about the land in which you live to appreciate, accept, and acknowledge the greatness in others.

The rest of the world will thank you.

Sincerely,
A (quietly proud) Canadian

(originally posted August 21, 2009)

Laurel Regan – Writer, tangler, iPhoneographer, cat herder, learner of French and Italian, crocheter, needle felter, Growlita, iFan, on-and-off politics junkie, 80s music trivia freak, ongoing work in progress.

{ 22 comments… add one }

  • Joe BW Smith April 23, 2012

    I’m with you, Dawn. Maybe I’ll get deported for typing this. The chest thumping is an odd exercise.

    • Laurel Regan
      Twitter:
      April 24, 2012

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t get it, Joe. Maybe you’re a closet Canadian?! ;)
      Laurel Regan recently posted… “The Greatest Country in the World” revisitedMy Profile

      • Joe BW Smith April 24, 2012

        It all began with watching the CBC propaganda as a child growing up in the Seattle metro. Actually, it all began with family members traveling a lot. I value perspective. I also value competition. But the greatest country thing is foolishly subjective.

        We have explored living in Canada–my brother married a Canadian and got his PhD from U. Alberta. It just didn’t work out. In enjoy my trips to Canada whenever I get the opportunity. Dreaming of a trip to Atlantic Canada and Newfoundland/Labrador.
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  • Honestly? This ‘proud American’ has no idea if this is the best country in the world. I’ve only been to 3 countries in my 48 years and would likely be as happy in any of them. Seems like it’s a pretty powerful country, for what that’s worth, but that’s just from the inside looking out.
    I’m just happy with MY little piece of the country, whatever country I might find that in.

    It must get rather boorish, all of our talk. lol
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  • Rick Buda April 24, 2012

    A myopic – simplistic but honest comment (not mine just strung together by me after listening to many comments, arguments and debates on this subject) is this: Many Americans are surprised that others do not feel the same way…. Not about the US but their own countries. “If you can’t believe that the country you live in is not the best/greatest, why would you live there? If you do feel that you are in the greatest country — Why wouldn’t you say it?”
    The statement accepts that the US may not be perfect, but, still the greatest….
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    • Laurel Regan
      Twitter:
      April 24, 2012

      That’s the thing, Rick – I don’t understand why there NEEDS to be a “greatest” country – just as I couldn’t imagine trying to name a single individual who is the greatest person in the world. It’s the whole frantic competition to be the best, to come out on top, that I just can’t figure out. Life (and the world) seems a lot richer to me when you have the anticipation and possibility of discovering new and different – and equally great – places and people in addition to the great ones you already know.
      Laurel Regan recently posted… “The Greatest Country in the World” revisitedMy Profile

  • Corinne Rodrigues
    Twitter:
    April 24, 2012

    You said it so politely, Dawn – but yes, it rankles with people of other countries too. Especially when we sometimes have to pay the price with our lives because the ‘greatest country in the world’ has been funding our neighbors and inadvertently (?) paying for terrorism in my city!
    Corinne Rodrigues recently posted… KairosMy Profile

  • Lou Lou Loves April 24, 2012

    You’re a brave women…
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  • Classic NYer April 25, 2012

    The politicians who talk like that don’t represent most of us. In fact, they don’ even represent themselves. They’re catering tp the groupthink of the lowest common denominator. Ask any reasonably intelligent non-politician American, and they’ll probably say that this country is awesome but flawed and that they havent spent enough time in any other country to really be objective.
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  • a.eye April 25, 2012

    I live in the US and find it totally disgusting when I hear those comments about this being the greatest place. There are so many things wrong here that people either sweep under the rug or just don’t notice.
    a.eye recently posted… V is for VilipendMy Profile

  • Suzanne April 25, 2012

    I’m American and I want to run and hide when people say things like that. It’s not that I’m unpatriotic and a communist. Well, it’s not that I’m unpatriotic, but that’s just embarrassing and childish.
    I used to tease my best friend in high school (he’s Canadian) that Canadians quietly show their patriotism by sewing giant Canadian flags to their backpacks when traveling abroad. :)
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  • Masked Mom April 26, 2012

    There’s such a fine line between pride and arrogance and apparently it’s a great American tradition to be on the wrong side of that line. Not only is the “greatest” label offensive and off-putting to the whole rest of the world, it also stops us as a nation from looking at our faults and flaws so that they may be addressed. Being convinced we are the “greatest” is a big part of what’s stopping us from becoming better. Sad, huh?
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