Editor's note: Glenn Beck is on CNN Headline News nightly at 7 and 9 ET and also hosts a conservative national radio talk show.
Glenn Beck says we should take time to celebrate what's right with America
NEW YORK (CNN) -- A few days before the Fourth of July, I read a column in The Philadelphia Inquirer that said America didn't deserve to celebrate its independence this year.
It claimed that all of our so-called atrocities have shamed the memory of our founding fathers and, as a result, we should cancel our parades, put away our fireworks and all sit quietly while we atone for our sins.
I guess that was one way to go.
Another way to go would be to fire up the grills, bring the kids to the beach,and gather the family on a blanket to watch as your tax dollars ignite into colorful bursts.
I'm guessing that most of us chose the second option.
But just because I had fun with friends and family doesn't mean that I believe America is perfect. It just means that, for one day, I chose to celebrate the fact that America is still closer to perfect than any other country in the history of the world.
For 364 days a year we talk about high gas prices, crooked politicians, and how much people from one political party allegedly hate everyone from the other. But for 24 hours we get to put it all aside and marvel at how a few brave men risked their lives to stand up for what they believed in. Of course, I would prefer we celebrate that every day, but for now, or at least until that Inquirer columnist gets elected president and bans it, I'll take the one.
As someone who works in the media in New York City, I'll admit that I am part of the chorus of people who talk about our problems. But there's nothing wrong with that, so long as you also occasionally take the time to talk about the other side. And that's what I want to do now by asking the question that never seems to be of interest to the mainstream media: What's right with America?
Let's start with our much maligned economy. I'm not trying to sugarcoat it, times are definitely tough for an awful lot of families right now. But you know what? We've made it through a depression; we've made it through wars, oil shocks, and major terrorist attacks and we're still standing. In fact, we're not just standing, we're towering over the rest of the world.
Our economy is almost as big as the next four largest economies on Earth (Japan, Germany, China and Great Britain) combined. The state of California alone has an economy as large as the entire country of France. Illinois has the same GDP as all of Mexico. New York matches the entire GDP of Brazil. Florida's economy is as large as South Korea's. Texas has a GDP roughly equal to Canada's. Michigan's economy is as large as the entire country of Argentina.
It takes a lot longer to turn around an aircraft carrier than it does a dinghy, but the problem we have is with our ship's captain -- the pea-brains in Washington -- not her crew.
What's right with America? How about the way we educate our children. Sure, I complain a lot about left-wing professors and how some wealthy private universities hoard their billions while charging obscene amounts for tuition, but the truth is that our universities are always ranked among the best in the world.
Students aren't fleeing America to go to college in Japan, India, or China -- it's the other way around. We open our colleges and universities to more than 80,000 foreign professors, scholars and educators a year and we have more students in college right now than those three countries combined.
What's right with America? Our world-class universities don't require you to have an elite family name or Rockefeller-type wealth to get in. We don't care about your race, gender or nationality. You just have to be smart enough and work hard for it. What a concept, huh?
What's right with America? How about the way we treat the less fortunate? With no help from our government, Americans gave a record $306 billion to charities last year alone. We give twice as much as the next closest country and, relative to the size of our economies, we give 1,000 percent more than the French.
What's right with America? It's not just the wealthy who are generous. Two-thirds of American families making under $100,000 a year give to charity. Compassion is ingrained in our culture like no other.
What's right with America? How about our supposedly third-world health care system? We spend more on health care per person than Switzerland, Germany, Canada, or any other country you can think of. Do we still have problems? Absolutely, but don't fall for "the grass is greener" crowd; every country has health care problems.
What's right with America? We love our country. World Values Survey found that 77 percent of Americans are very proud of their nationality. That puts us in a first place tie with the Irish. Australia was next and no one else was really even close.
I could go on and on, but my point is that we don't need the so often wished for "change" in this country, we just need perspective.
While most of us inherently know that we've won the lottery by living here, we don't often think about the reasons why.
So, for at least that one day, let's just remember that America still leads the world in the principles that matter most: The rule of law, freedom of religion, equal rights, freedom from an oppressive government and, fortunately for the Philadelphia Inquirer, freedom of speech.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer