FLINT - I think everybody should do this once a year. Just for perspective.|
1) Go to the newsstand or jump online.
2) Buy or call up a copy of the New York Times, preferably the Sunday edition, which is as thick as a club sandwich.
3) Read or at least scan the articles about what's going on in other nations.
4) Fall to your knees and thank your lucky stars that you live here in the good 'ol U.S. of A.
I did this recently, not by design, just because there was a copy of the Times in my office and I began leafing through it.
Here's the first headline I saw: "Palestinians Flee Northern Gaza as a Cease-Fire Appears Elusive - Rejecting Hamas's Calls To Stay Put After Israel Warns of Major Attacks."
We have our differences here in the U.S. but when's the last time you read a headline that said "Ohioans flee Columbus after Michigan launches missile strike against Ohio State Buckeyes' stadium " with a sub-head saying "Michigan governor says, 'We just hate OSU so much'"?
Here's the next headline I read: "Rival Factions in Libyan Capital Battle for Control of Main Airport."
Now, flying in America is an admittedly awful experience. The lines are long. You have to take off your shoes. You have to take off your belt. They swab your fingers and electronically scan your body. I figure it won't be long before we're all flying naked.
How awful would the middle seat be then?
Then when you get on the plane, the seats are too narrow. Your knees are crunched. On top of that, they don't even give you peanuts anymore, and they charge you for earphones for the privilege of watching a really bad movie five rows up. How long will it be before they're charging for air?
But at least we don't have to dodge cannon fire or wear a flak jacket to get to the airport. No one here ever had to say to text their spouse, "Flight's canceled, honey. Rebels are holding the Southwest Airlines counter."
Here was another headline from last week: "Ukrainian Forces Close In on Rebel-Held Luhansk." We haven't had headlines like that since the Civil War, and since then there hasn't been any question that we're one nation, under God, indivisible. We take it for granted that other nations will keep their hands off our land, although I think we should give serious consideration to giving North Dakota to Canada. I see no point to that state. I'm not too wild on New Mexico either. How about it, Mexico - interested?"
Here's yet another headline from the same edition of the Times: "Afghans to Alter the Government - designed to ease the Afghan election crisis."
Yes, our politicians are crazy, especially the tea party Republicans, who put the whack in whack-a-doodle. Half the time our government seems useless. Nothing gets done. Politicians enrich themselves instead of working for us, and our priorities are forever misplaced. (For instance, would you rather have another next-gen fighter jet or send anyone who wants to go to college for free?)
But at least it's OUR useless, whack-a-doodle, nothing-gets-done government. For all its flaws, our system seems to work and no one seems inclined to mess with it too much. That stability is the envy of the world.
That's worth remembering.
EDITOR'S NOTE - Andy Heller, an award-winning columnist, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979.
Write to Andrew Heller at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.