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Happy Independence Day

July 4, 2014 – by Per Christensson

USA Flag This Fourth of July holds special meaning for me this year, since I have been out of the country for awhile (hence the lack of updates in June). I flew back from Europe just in time to celebrate our nation's independence. While I'm happy to be back, I also enjoyed once again discovering the intricacies of other cultures.

People from the U.S. are known for saying, "We live in the greatest country in the world." I understand the sentiment because I love the USA. But what does it really mean to say, "the greatest country?" Is the U.S. better than all the other countries? Are the people in the U.S. smarter and kinder than people from everywhere else in the world? Is our land cleaner and our standard of living higher than all other nations? Is our government the model all other countries should follow?

I am proud to be an American, but I don't feel it's right to tell my friends in other countries that my country is better than theirs. We do a lot of things right here in the United States, but we're not perfect. Other countries actually do some things better than us. For example, the Scandinavian countries are cleaner and maintain an overall higher standard of living than the U.S. People in the southern European countries know how to enjoy life like no other place in the world. The people I met in Kenya have enormous joy with hardly any material possessions. The Peruvians I worked with are some of the most loving and selfless people I know. Members of Eastern countries like Japan and South Korea are the most humble and respectful people I have ever met.

I find myself truly blessed to have visited so many parts of the world and to have met so many amazing people. Traveling abroad has humbled me by broadening my perspective and allowing me to better understand other people and their cultures. It is also humbling to realize how much of the world I still haven't seen.

I'm happy to be back in the United States to celebrate our nation's independence. I am proud of the freedom we have in this country and our independent spirit. I just hope that we can balance our independence with humility and realize we are just one of many great countries in the world.

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