Friday, August 15, 2008

Back from DC

It occurred to me, really out of the blue the other day, that when i mention life in America on these pages, it's usually though critical eyes. Well, thats not a very good thing. Here are some of the things i really like about living in America, just off the top of my head.

Kids' Sports are huge.
Right now ESPN 2 is full of 'the little league world series' where, i guess, 11,12 and 13 year old baseball teams from all over america and the world compete to be the best little league baseball team there is. Earlier today Connecticut were playing Hawaii. In the other group there's teams from the middle east, Italy and Guam. It's all a bit cool. This week Rachel's little sister made her schools age group volley ball team, and is playing at least one match a week, all over eastern North Carolina for the next couple of months. The local paper is full of adverts for age group touch football and baseball. High School sports and especially college sports are as big in some places as the NBA and NFL. Bigger in other places. To me, thats great. None of this slightly wet 'everyone gets a prize' stuff. If you're good enough you make the team. if the teams good enough, you might make the play offs, if you do well there, you might win the Championship game. If not see you next year. Kids who can't shine in the classroom have somewhere to feel valued, it brings communities together. It means something. We need more of this in England.

They really respect their veterans.
The war memorials in Washington DC have to be seen to be believed. They are magnificent, humbling and beautiful. The Lincoln memorial is the biggest thing you've ever seen. I don't think it really matters what you think about the rights and wrongs of war, if you're out there, thousands of miles from home, being shot at, you deserve some respect when you get home. These great stone monoliths at least help us appreciate, and remember.

There's little cynicism
If somethings wrong there's no sitting around lamenting that it's not like the old days. People roll their sleeves up, and make it better. Then better again, then better again. Things can always be better, people can always be innovating. I guess thats part of the reason Michael Phelps has won more Gold medals than Great Britain right now.

People are just polite
I've never seen such manners. Wilberforce would approve. I can't count the number of times people call each other 'sir' or 'ma'am' in a normal conversation. And yet in all this politeness there's great community. There's no stuffiness. I respect you, you respect me, but hey, we're all friends, lets get along, say hey to strangers in the parking lot or at Bojangles. We can be friendly, but we can be polite. It's just cool.

From the board of education to the White House.
It's fifty four years since Brown vs the Board of Education started to desegregate public schools. In November a black man will stand for President. It's incredible that thats happened so quickly and i can't imagine what it must mean to the first generation of people affected by the act. I'm not sure that could happen anywhere else.

So there you have it. It's a good place to be. And even though i still don't like private health care the hospitals are the cleanest places i've ever been into. There'll be no 'God bless Americas' just yet, but this part of the world, the much maligned Bible belt is full of life, opportunities and great people. I like it.

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