i think that maybe i'm crazy.

I've been thinking a lot about my trip to Africa, trying to decide what exactly it meant to me. And somehow, I only came up with one incredibly surprising thing.

I am proud to be an American.

I know, I'm crazy. I go to Africa and I get all Lee Greenwood on you. But for all the things America stands for that I loathe (i.e. greed, selfishness, obesity, sloth - basically a majority of the 7 Deadly Sins), I truly am blessed to live here.

For one thing, I can have this blog and say whatever I want on it without the fear of someone hunting me down and cutting off my fingers. Seriously, some people don't have that "luxury". I can vote for whoever I want, again without fear of dismemberment. I can believe what I want, say what I want, learn what I want, do what I want, as long as it doesn't kill anybody.

And there are people who died to make that happen. There are people today still making tough choices to ensure that it stays that way. I don't always agree with those choices, but I have to believe that over all, whoever is in charge is doing the right thing, and that ultimately the Lord is in control. And that He put me in the United States of America for a reason.

Why I realized this in Kenya is a little difficult to explain. Obviously, the stark contrast to our freedoms here was a bit overwhelming. I get pissed here if my water smells too much of the chemicals that make it clean. Kenyan children walk up to 20 miles a day to get semi-clean-ish water. You think unemployment here is bad? Try 40% in Kenya. And violence? There are between 250,000-400,000 internally displaced people STILL living in tents in the Rift Valley after the election in 2007. (By the way, that range means they really have NO IDEA how many are out there.)

I never have to worry about that. But what I do have to worry about is why I don't have to worry about it. Is there a reason the good Lord (who really is good, by the way) put me here and not there? I think there is. I think we are blessed so that we can bless others. That is the only thing I can think of. That is what we are here for. And oh my, if Americans really lived up to what they are here for, the world would seriously be a better place. We can make the world a better place.

And I think we are trying. America sends billions and billions of dollars to third world countries. I think Bush sent 48 billion to Africa alone. Not to mention all of our philanthropists and missionaries who send not only money, but people and time, one of America's most beloved resources.

I won't keep going, but suffice it to say that as wicked as America and Americans can be, there is so much good here that we cannot overlook nor take for granted. We have one of the most organized governments in the world - so much so that a pothole doesn't even go unnoticed. A pothole. Have you ever driven in Africa??

Exhibit A.

Fixing a flat tire. This happens quite often.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this - especially from you non-Americans out there...what is your view on America vs. the "third world"? Are we "here" and others "there" for a reason?


  1. I am obese. Am I loathed?

  2. Anonymous, you are certainly not loathed, and though I am no expert on obesity I know that it is something many Americans have to deal with that people from other nations don't. That is what I loathe: obesity itself, and what it has done to people I love.

  3. beautiful blog post ms. jessi.

    it is strange that in america the poor suffer/die from obesity related illnesses rather than starvation. Some of it has to do with greed - major food companies are too busy marketing really cheap processed foods (that are filled with too much extra salt and sugar) so they can turn a profit.

    But, you are a super sweet girl and I love your blog. and i'm proud to be an american too, and i'm so happy you live here.


  4. (from Canada)

    I think Americans could do a lot of good if they chose to. Emphasis on the choosing. I think a lot of Americans never look once outside their borders. There's a startling number who know nothing about Canada, and we're right next to you! The potential is great; the passion may be lacking in some.

    That said, I think it's great what you're doing! Your goals are similar to mine--except my passion is writing, not art.

    Stay passionate, and keep loving God and life!

  5. I have been having those same thoughts lately - Why was I so lucky to be born in America, to a Christian family, to learn the love the Lord has for us? Have to believe it's to share that love with other ppl.

    And on another note, it's so sad to me that fresh fruits & vegetables, "organic" food, and non-growth hormone injected food is so much more expensive than "convenient" foods. I myself fall into that trap, of buying the cheap convenient food over the more expensive food I KNOW is better for me. Seems like the things that are good for you should be more prevalent than those that are awful.

    Great post, thanks for sharing!!

  6. Martha and Carmar76 - I totally agree about the organic food thing. I noticed in Africa that I ate WAY more food than I even eat here (surprisingly), but it was SO much better for me. Everything I ate came straight out of the ground, or a freshly slaughtered animal :) And America used to be like that, but we got all "civilized" and started making crap that gave us cancer and heart disease and led to things like obesity and diabetes...the list goes on.

    And thank you Heidi, I agree that America, as "educated" as we are, we suck at global awareness. Every country I have been to knows more about America than I do. Seriously. Not to mention that most people from other countries can speak at least 2 languages, if not 3 or 4. In America? We speak English because aren't taught anything else, nor does anyone think we need to learn anything else. I might be right in saying that America is one of the most self-absorbed countries in the world.

  7. Long live country crock!

  8. Ahem, "Anonymous" (I know who you are...) Country Crock is of the devil. It is a little known demon called margarine that is but one molecule away from being plastic. It can sit on your counter for 50 years without anything happening to it, not only because it is non-biodegradable, but because not even the cockroaches will touch it. Down with Country Crock!

  9. I must say, though, Canada isn't much better than the USA, if at all. We're known for being a lot more "tolerant" and "multi-cultural" but when it comes down to it, we're just as selfish. We've been blessed so much that we don't even recognize what we have.

  10. I love this! I often am so disappointed that we as Americans get so comfortable living our pretty little lives, that we never stop to think about how all these "blessings" (which is what they are - everything we have is a gift of God, not of our own doing) could be used to bless others! We are so obsessed with "Me-me-ME!" that we forget that we have SO MUCH to bless others with! Yes, I think as Christians, when we are given so much, the Lord expects us to give back and bless others.

    At the same time, I think "giving back" needs to be a CHOICE, not a government mandated program of sorts so we can become a "global community". But that's an entirely different discussion for an entirely different time. :)

  11. Technically, EVERYTHING is but one molecule away from being plastic. Just like methane gas is but one molecule away from being the vodka in your screwdriver.

    =D It's true.

    As far as America's self-absorption, you have to think of it in a different way. We ALL know Obama's name and facts about Obama, but what does he know about us? He certainly has no idea that I exist. Do we fault him for it? Should he know about my existence? Should he know the little dialects and regional slang for Birmingham?

    Most of Europe could fit into the US, area-wise, so it's only natural that they speak different languages as they travel "state-to-state." If the United States had a different language for each state, we'd be speaking many languages as well.

    No offense to Yemen or Uganda or Cote D'Ivoire, but their languages aren't widely used. Why should we learn their languages for any reason other than to connect with them specifically?

    I'm not trying to be offensive or political, just trying to raise some questions. =)