Why We Love the USA
Paying taxes is not usually associated with happiness—especially when one starts thinking about how much of their hard work contributes to the ineptitudes and inefficiencies of governing nearly 317,000,000 people. Yet this season, instead of griping about taxes, I decided to consider how my earnings contribute to making the United States of America a country I love and feel lucky to live in.
Despite all of its imperfection, here are 9 reasons why I love the United States of America.
The roads are extensive, well-maintained, and easy to navigate. People follow traffic laws. Gas stations are destinations. Bathrooms are clean, have running water and toilet paper. The phones work, the mail comes on time, the trash is collected instead of burned, recycling is widespread, and organic compost collection is becoming more common. In general, the police are trusted and there is little corruption. Public spaces are abundant and taken care of. In the USA, basic infrastructure works so consistently that people are outraged when it does not. We can always improve—I personally believe we have a lot of work to do on the public transit system, but I still love America’s reliable infrastructure.
2. Innovation and Creativity
Our cultural value of creativity leads to consistent technological and social innovations that make life better for the average human. We continue to change the world in profound ways through incredible innovations.
Just take a look at communication—from American Samuel Morse’s telegraph to DARPA’s influence on the creation of the internet, to social media giants Facebook and Twitter, America has always been and will continue to be a bright light in innovative creations. I think it will be difficult to find a more supportive culture for thinking outside of the box, following a unique dream, and creating something entirely new and exciting to better people’s lives.
I think our music and movies are creative, beautiful, and influential worldwide.
Jazz, blues, country, rock and roll, and the current form of rap/hip-hop formed in the United States (acknowledging that the roots of these styles come from all over the planet, particularly West Africa).
The whole world seems to take cues from Hollywood, and we consistently create films and TV shows that explore the depth of human experience and emotion in all of its glory and terror. We make a lot of crap, and I am no fan of US Weekly, but there is a reason you can buy bootleg copies of American blockbusters in Mexico City, Hong Kong, and Accra.
Maybe I’m just partial to American food because I grew up here, but I find the American blend of styles incomparable. Consider deep dish pizza, Tex-Mex, breakfast tacos, Cajun food, and all the crazy experiments at food-trailers nationwide (kimchi fries anyone?). Yum.
Plus, one can usually find authentic version of national dishes made by immigrants in any big US city—from sushi to pupusas to injera—at a reasonable price.
Finally, I am quite fond of American-style supermarkets—Whole Foods and Costco are two of my favorite uniquely American contributions. I also love the trend toward an incredible variety of food and options yet still catering to local producers, and I love the growing availability of farmer’s markets.
Speaking of the melting pot, I love the type of diversity of the US. For a variety of political and historical reasons, we have a massive mix of religious, linguistic, cultural, and socioeconomic diversity. We are the largest destination for immigrants and we are the country with the 5th highest number of languages spoken. This diversity is generally viewed as an asset, celebrated and protected through civil rights legislation and the separation of church and state.
Following along with the theme of diversity, I feel lucky to live in the US. Football, basketball, baseball, hockey, and soccer all have professional leagues and are played and watched by millions. Lacrosse, ultimate frisbee, volleyball, and rugby are popular, as well as a rich diversity of individual sports and outdoor activities ranging from tennis to rock climbing to kite surfing to skateboarding. You can pretty much find it all here, including curling and roller derby.
7. Landscape and National Parks
People come from all over the world to see the Grand Canyon, hike Half Dome at Yosemite, and check out old faithful at Yellowstone. The Rocky Mountains, the volcanoes in Hawaii, the beaches on all the coasts, the Great Lakes and the Appalachain Trail and the Mississippi River all make this country a stunningly picturesque and make giant leaps in preserving our natural inheritance.
8. Average Quality of Life
As one immigrant writer said, “We live in a country where construction workers regularly pay $4 for a nonfat latte, where maids drive rather nice cars, where plumbers and postal workers take their families on vacation in Europe or the Caribbean […] I asked [my friend], “Why are you so eager to come to America?” His reply: “Because I really want to move to a country where the poor people are fat.” 
9. Freedom and Self Expression
A discussion of America without mentioning freedom is like talking about the ocean without reference to water. We fought and continue to fight hard to preserve our freedoms and independence. While some people lament aspects of our federalistic government, I believe that is precisely what allowed Colorado and Washington to legalize the entire supply chain of marijuana from seed to sale. While many people despise the polarized news media, the diversity of strong opinions is a testament to a healthy separation of the government from propaganda, and for me, a trust in the American public to make up our own minds about what matters most to us.
Furthermore, I believe our values of independence contribute to and support all of the aforementioned American characteristics. Personally, I think we can leverage this very value of freedom and self-determination to untangle some of our toughest national issues.
How it Relates to Happiness
My pride in the USA is not intended to denigrate any other nationality; I believe it is possible to celebrate our strengths, what makes us special, without putting others down. I would love to hear what our international DailyHap readers find pride in for their countries of origin.
Ethnocentric identities, when used to exclude others, can be extremely harmful and lead to enormous suffering. Yet like all human creations, they can also be used as incredible forces of good in the world.
I believe that a healthy ethnocentric identity is a crucial component for a world that maintains cultural traditions, gifts, languages, and perspectives while living in harmony together, allowing all humans to preserve a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.