July 4th was the national celebration of the founding of our extraordinary country. It also happens to be my birthday, so perhaps I'm a tad extra-sensitive and extra-patriotic around Independence Day.
On the day after the 4th of July, a Facebook "friend" posted a picture of the U.S. Capitol with a caption underneath that read, "GOVERNMENT: If you think the problems we create are bad, just wait until you see our solutions."
I got mad. I know that Facebook isn't the place to air political differences, but somehow -- in the afterglow of yesterday's patriotic festivities -- it just hit me wrong. So I responded sarcastically: "Oh yes, government is terrible! Just think of it: Social Security, Medicare, the most powerful military on the planet, public education for all our children, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, a jury of your peers to judge you fairly if you get into trouble, fire fighters to protect your home and property, paramedics to save you if you're in a car accident or fall down the stairs, cops who protect us from drunk drivers and burglars, and much more. You're right, government is horrible!"
OK, I shouldn't have done it. It's rude to disagree with someone's Facebook posting. She didn't ask for my opinion -- she was simply expressing hers. I should have just let it go. But in a moment of pique I typed a quick comment, pointing out many of the good things our government provides -- and I did it sarcastically. Mea culpa. Bad netiquette. Call me cranky.
The truth is, I did it because I am sick and tired of Americans bashing our government -- all the while enjoy the myriad blessings and benefits provided by that same government!
Driven on a city street or a freeway lately? Thank our government for building and maintaining those roads and highways. Flown in an airplane on a business trip or vacation lately? Thank our government for air traffic controllers for helping ensure you made it to your destination safely. Mailed a letter or package lately? Thank our federal government for moving massive volumes of mail across our country every day. Walked across a street in a crosswalk lately? Thank our government for painting those crosswalks and making sure the "walk/don't walk" signs are in working order. Did you, your kids, or grandkids attend public schools? Thank our government for building and staffing those schools; thank the teachers who do their best to teach you and your family members with limited budgets and limitless patience. Ever seen those wildfires that devastate thousands of acres of forest... ever seen a home or community threatened by flames? Thank our government for the firefighters they hire, train, and deploy to save our personal and public property. I could go on... but you get the point.
As for all you "government is the problem" complainers and finger-pointers out there: If you think that American government is so awful, just check out the other governments on this planet and pick one you like better... then go live under their governance! We'll see how fast you come running back to the country whose government you think is so terrible.
Our federal, states, and local governments certainly aren't perfect -- but any institution, public or private, run by imperfect human beings isn't going to be perfect. It's easy to fault-find and complain about the mistakes and missteps that our government makes. Everybody's a critic.
But we get the government we create -- with our votes, with our involvement and influence, with our support and help, and yes, with our taxes. You want better government? Then roll up your sleeves and get involved -- help government improve -- instead of whining, complaining, finger-pointing, and attacking. If you don't like our American government, the best place to look for a solution is in the mirror.
Follow BJ Gallagher on Twitter: www.twitter.com/BJ_Gallagher