the lectern banner

By Steve Kelman

Blog archive

Thoughts coming off the 4th of July

steve kelman

As some of my Facebook friends are aware, I try to be conscientious about remembering the religious holidays and national days of places and faiths where I have a significant number of Facebook connections. So on the morning of the Fourth of July, not surprisingly, I posted a status update sending U.S. Facebook friends best wishes for the holiday. But I decided to add an additional twist, partly to see what kind of reaction, if any, it would get.

I posted that I was "wishing U.S. Facebook friends best wishes for the Fourth of July. Hope that non-U.S. Facebook friends will join Americans in celebrating: for all our (many) faults, the U.S. represents values of respect for people, freedom, democracy and opportunity that are important for people everywhere."

The post got a pretty large reaction, 89 likes. But what was more interesting, I think, was who liked the post:

  • 44 Americans
  • 41 non-Americans
  • 4 non-Americans currently living/studying/working in the U.S.

Think about this for a second. If I post a Facebook greeting for the national days of China, Mexico, Taiwan or Sweden, it is overwhelmingly Chinese, Mexicans, Taiwanese, or Swedes who "like" the greeting. Few Swedes like a post about China's national day, or vice versa. But it's not just us Americans who (not surprisingly) like ourselves. Others, or at least some others, like us too.

It's not too hard to find reasons why people from other countries might not like us. People in the United States are killed in mass shootings with horrible frequency. Our political system is mired in gridlock. We get involved in a lot of wars. And, of course, we are rich and powerful, which can evoke jealousy.

But we have something going for us, which is an idea. As one of the "likers" of my Facebook greeting, a Mexican, wrote: "I congratulate all the American friends, and generally to modern democracies, inspired by the independence of the United States of America (the independence of 1776, the foundation of freedoms in the world); these countries have promoted development of freedom, equality and democracy. Congratulations on the 4th of July."

I'm going to put it very abstractly -- the American idea is about respect for the worth of people, the idea that all are precious and all should have a chance to make something of ourselves. It is an idea that is very far from realization in many, many parts of the world -- and indeed, it is realized imperfectly here inside the U.S. as well. But it is still an idea that inspires and that lies behind the many around the world who wish us, and the United States, well.

My Facebook post, and the reaction to it, reminded me.

Posted by Steve Kelman on Jul 07, 2014 at 6:48 AM


The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Tue, Jul 8, 2014 Al

Thank you for this thoughtful post. The reasons for not liking us you list are informative in that they are inconsequential, typical of all countries, or even beneficial. Our swimming pools are deadlier than our spree killers, our gridlock typically works to our advantage, and wars are a part of life on planet Earth. For humans, anyway. That leaves jealousy. I always thought the envy epidemic was a domestic problem, not something I ever projected onto folks overseas . . .

Tue, Jul 8, 2014 Harvey

On the 238th bithday of the USA I am reminded that when I turned 18 I watched in awe the 200th birthday celebration. I also realize that my youngest daughter will turn 18 (God willing) the year of our 250th birthday.

Mon, Jul 7, 2014 Mike Palumbo USA

As often is the case, your questions help illuminate much of what we take for granted. For within the act of asking great questions there are captured answers yearning to be set free. In this case I would speculate that your readers are also acknowledging your own association with our wonderfully odd and gleefully diverse country. I would dare to speculate that many of you readers "like" you and your country of origid which are intimately intertwined. Now what would be real interesting is to test or compate smiliar expressions and sentiments of "likes" on Israel's birthday?

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group