A Grain Of Saul

A Grain Of Saul: No, America Is Not Being Destroyed

And it's really time we stopped saying that.

I have great news for you: America is not being destroyed.

Despite the words of almost every presidential candidate running in this year's race, despite headlines from various media outlets, America is actually doing pretty well. The streets are not on fire, the economy is not on the verge of collapse, we are not about to start World War III, and we are still living safer, healthier lives than almost every nation on earth.

It's a wonderful and relieving truth, but one that has been lost during the course of this presidential race, and most of the presidential races that preceded it. Which makes sense, by the way, as several studies have shown negative campaigning drives up voter turnout for those in fear, and negative campaign ads are more memorable.  

But the saddest part about this notion of America being destroyed is that it's spreading. I see it among my friends on Facebook, political pundits on television, and even in my own perspectives about the country I call home. People have really begun to convince themselves that America is on its death bed.

So let me remind you of a few things.

First of all, we're pretty safe here in the United States. We have the largest military in the world, one that receives more than $600 billion of funding a year, more than the next 10 countries combined. We are winning the war against the extremist group ISIS, which has dominated the headlines, and it's been more than 40 years since we had a draft. That means you — unlike many people in many nations — don't have to go to war if you don't want to, and can go to sleep knowing our borders are being protected by the strongest military on planet Earth.

We're also relatively healthy. Yes, we are battling obesity, heart disease, and opioid addiction, but the average life expectancy in America is still 79.3 years, only about four years short of Japan's global high of 83.7. In countries such as India, the Phillipines and Pakistan, average life expectancy is still below 70 years of age.

Health and safety aren't everything, though. Americans have a penchant for liking (and wanting) money. It's a cultural thing, "The American Dream" of white picket fences and a nice house is as common here as a cheeseburger, which should make this next piece of news pretty welcome: the United States' $17.41 trillion economy is the largest in the world, accounting for 22.44 percent of the gross world product. While China is approaching our economic size, their $12,893 GDP per capita is measly next to America's $54,678. 

You might be thinking, "where is all my money, then?" And you may have a point. Income inequality is worse in the United States than anywhere else in the world. Or you might be thinking, "but isn't the economy in trouble? What about the recession in 2008?"

The reality, though, proves once again that America is still capable of fixing its problems.

Since 2009, during the economic recession, we've had the fourth largest U.S. economic expansion since World War II. Even amid a surprisingly bad jobs report released last week, we're light-years ahead of where we were seven years ago. 

But what about the housing market crash? And the greedy Wall Street bankers? And predatory payday loans?

As it turns out, things there are headed in the right direction, too. With the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, more than $3 billion dollars have been returned to regular working class Americans who were taken advantage of by everyone from debt collectors to payday lenders. 

So if safety, health, economy, and the ability to fix problems aren't what makes a country great, what else can we have pride in? 

For one, our education system offers the top four universities in the world. While college debt has hamstrung my generation, a new movement to reduce the price students pay to go to school has more momentum than ever before. 

How does the world feel about us? Well, across 40 countries polled by Pew, a median of 65 percent say they "have confidence in Obama to do the right thing in world affairs."

Ranked globally, America has one of the freest economies and perhaps the most freedom for its citizens. 

We're more diverse than almost every nation on Earth, and by 2044, whites won't even be a majority in our country. That might be seen as a bad thing in other nations, but here in America, we are more accepting of our neighbors than just about anywhere else. 

We are home to revolutionary companies such as Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Nike. Even iconic American pastimes such as space exploration and building awesome cars are still alive and well. This week, news broke that the U.S. government will be approving the first-ever private mission out of Earth's orbit. In Pittsburgh, Google is testing out a self-driving car that is almost ready to drive on its own. 

By almost every metric imaginable, the United States is a pretty good place to be. We're the 15th happiest country, and according to U.S. News & World Report, we're the fourth best country to live in, trailing only Germany, Great Britain, and Canada. 

So next time you're about to say the United States is being destroyed, or next time you hear someone say the United States is already destroyed, try to have a little gratitude. And maybe, just maybe, take the time to stand up for your own country. After all, we have a lot to be proud of. 

Isaac Saul is a reporter for A Plus and author of his weekly column "A Grain of Saul." You can follow him on Twitter

Cover photo: CURAphotography / Shutterstock


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