My grandparents fled pogroms in Russia in the 1900's and came to America for religious and economic freedom. My family always reminded me that America is the greatest country in the world and lately, both voters and politicians seem to have forgotten that fact. The extreme political polarization in our country has caused acute inertia with our domestic policies and the only news about American foreign relations is filled with negativity and violence.
Sometimes our country reminds me of the rich, successful friend we all have who does nothing but complain about the difficulties in their life. I recently met with President Bujar Nishani of Albania, and he reminded me that America still has Allies who respect and revere us. My political punditry usually focuses on Presidential politics and small businesses, but I always remember my father (a Jewish World War II veteran) championing Albania as the one place in Europe during the war that was a safe haven for Jews. In fact, during that time, the Jewish population in Albania increased tenfold, so it was a proud moment for me when I sat down with President Nishani. It was enjoyable to discuss the positive things we all take for granted with the head of a foreign country who has a sincere admiration for the United States.
President Nishani is an elegant, formal man who was educated in Albania as well as in the United States (graduate studies). He was elected President in 2011 and has much to say about America. "Albania considers America our best friend. Albanians, no matter where they live, will have forever in their minds, the contribution of the United States, which supported the indepence of Albania in 1912," said President Nishani. "Albanian people have always been encouraged to see the way democracy works in the United States and have tried to follow your example."
President Nishani sees Albania as one of the world's best examples for religious tolerance, populated with both Christians and Muslims, and all coexisting without acrimony. "All these religions live together in harmony and respect each other," said President Nishani. Albania is a member of NATO and they have supported the United States by sending troops to Afghanistan. Albania plans on staying with us for the duration. "In together, out together," said President Nishani.
"I do believe that all countries all around the world have to understand the real contribution of the United States," said President Nishani and I agree with him. Despite the troubles and difficulties many of us face, I'm proud to be an American and couldn't imagine living anywhere else.