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I am an americanMost national holidays find me struggling with a post offering my own brand of snarky wisdom to my fellow countrymen. I usually pick a dysfunctional topic du jour or bemoan people having only a scant idea what they are celebrating beyond a BOGO sale at the local appliance mart. There is often a plea to save ourselves from ourselves by showing rare common sense and unity we can use to pull ourselves together instead of sitting in a hand-basket and arguing about where we’re off to.

Of course, those pleas go unanswered so I’m growing bored with them. After all, how often can you lead a horse to water and stick his head beneath the surface to make him drink?

The Quintessential American Holiday

So this Independence Day I’ll eschew the earnest requests for Americans to do anything. We can sit back and enjoy the most American of holidays. Let’s guiltlessly eat miles (not kilometers, dammit!) of hot dogs and drink copious amounts of German/Mexican/Asian/pretentious little craft brewery beer, while sitting in the sweltering sun to watch a game most of the world doesn’t understand…except Japan. But you can’t go by them, they have Hello Kitty, Elvis cults, and squid ink-flavored chips for Chrissake.

It’s OK to admit that all of us, from Native Americans to recent Nigerian immigrants, are a bunch of rowdy ne’er-do-wells who almost never remember what we have. We can admit we’re almost 250 years on and still haven’t figured out what we want to be when we grow up.

We are a country riven by conflict at every level, but full of mostly kind-hearted, take the shirt of my back kind of people. We squabble among ourselves and with everyone else in the world, yet somehow manage to get our shit together when someone gets all up in our national grille. Racists, genteel grannies, and liberals somewhere to the left of Marx were equally pissed on 9/1/1. Even George Bush had a moment there. We became the Bickerson family on steroids. It’s OK for us to call each other assholes, but woe be unto anyone outside the family who does it.

Americans are a nation of people who wing it and sometimes cause damage for it. But, we will muster the world’s mightiest power to help earthquake victims a world away, in a country most of us couldn’t find on a map, and couldn’t care less it isn’t a two-way street.

I am AmericanWe will feed and clothe entire countries, yet barely do the same for our own citizens. We whine about our freedom of speech being taken away without seeing a trace of irony in doing it on CNN with the rest of the world watching, or at least the part of the world that gets CNN…or has TVs.

We live with a political system so adept at keeping power balanced that everyone and no one can get the upper hand. Our institutions get absolutely nothing done at the same time they manage to keep the lights on. It is quite amazing to see if you live in one of a sadly burgeoning number of failed states run by a despot who puts the “dick” in dictator.

America is a place where people spray tan their way into “experiencing” what the least of our citizens live with daily and then explain their odd behavior using the same extra-racial privilege they claim to abhor. It strikes no one strange that people even care what difference Rachel Dolezal made.

America is a Mess, but America is a Hot Mess

We are an odd, troubled, unself-aware, sprawling, petulant country. We are full of guile and utterly devoid of it. Ditto irony.  We don’t know who the hell we are and no one else does either. We are utterly creative, intelligent, and successful while being ignorant rubes who can’t come up with a simple solution to a simple problem to save our lies. We are a mess, but we are a hot mess.

If there is such a thing as American charm, that is ours—that we are a society that no one can explain or understand, least of whom us. But, we are not dull. We are not inconsequential. We offer something that is rare in all the world, a society that lives in the open, warts and all. The world can see everything we do and we can too, even if we aren’t always willing to admit it or take time to understand it.

I like to think my country has done some good in the world and I’m fully aware it has added plenty of sorrow too. We are human to an unbelievable degree, yet we manage to keep going on and the world turns because of and in spite of us. Perhaps that is enough. Perhaps that is the true Manifest Destiny. If not, it is certainly worthy of an annual celebration.

So in the true American spirit of stealing a good idea when I see it, I turn to our maternal/fraternal twin to the north. A few years back, Molson breweries launched a very popular advertising campaign in which thousands of Canadians hefted bottles of Molson Canadian beer high and proudly announced, “I AM CANADIAN!” This year I’d like to do the same. Americans, lift that beer? Hold it high! And at the top of your lungs shout, “I AM AMERICAN!”

But make sure the beer is from a nice little craft brewery that makes an ass-kicking IPA.