What should Americans do to be saved? They should try to think negatively. Learning how to mock themselves would be an incomparably greater achievement than landing on Mars. They should stop selling themselves as the finest country in the world because there is no such thing, any more than there are Gorgons and goblins. There should be compulsory courses for all college freshmen in how not to mean what you say.
Above all, they should stop making such a song and dance about salvation. They should try to be less moral, idealistic, earnest, and high-minded. They should take a break from all that uplifting, inspiring, healing, empowering, dreaming, edifying, and aspiring. Then they might be more admirable people. In many respects—in their friendliness, honesty, openness, inventiveness, courtesy, civic pride, ease of manner, generosity of spirit, and egalitarian manners—they are admirable enough already.
But Americans are the first to admit that there is always room for improvement. It is an honorable puritan doctrine. The good news about the citizens of this kindly, violent, bigoted, generous-spirited nation is that if ever the planet is plunged into nuclear war, they will be the first to crawl over the edge of the crater, dust themselves down, and proceed to build a new world. The bad news is that they will probably have started the war.
-Terry Eagleton, “No Self-Mockery, Please, We’re American”
Ha. After five years away from the homeland, I constantly feel aware of how American I am, in my disposition and political positions. But this last line is right on the money in describing my feelings on the good ol’ US of A.
Happy 4th of July, folks!