This Fourth of July I did one un-American thing and one very American thing.
For a subversive, anti-American activity, my wife and I took advantage of the three day weekend celebrating the good old USA’s 232nd birthday to go to…Canada.
Yes, we spent the 4th of July with the Canucks. In Banff national park in Alberta. And it was great. Sure, there were other American’s up there with their Star Spangled Banner t-shirts and caps, but overall it was nice to be away from the jingo-y, fake patriotism that seems to prevail in the George W. Bush era. We hiked, we explored the lakes and byways of the magnificent Canadian Rockies and drank delicious Canadian beer. (NOTE: Get your hands on Sleeman’s Honey Brown Lager if you can…hard to find in the States.)
But, for all that I did not forget my true American roots. No, it’s hard to deny your cultural heritage on the one day that we’re supposed to focus on what it is to be an American. Therefore, I did one of the most American things of all – I worked. The U.S. worker is among the most productive in the world, and we log more hours of work a year than any other industrialized western society save one - Norway. Interestingly enough, despite being more productive than U.S. workers, Norwegians actually work fewer hours per year. Hmm.
Some Americans work long weeks, plus weekends and holidays to get ahead, some to stay ahead or many simply to pay the bills month to month…but that’s what we do in the U.S.A. We work. And if you think I’m just making this up, none other than President Bush agrees that working so much is an American virtue…
"You work three jobs? Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that." (George W. Bush speaking to a divorced mother of three, Omaha, Nebraska, Feb. 4, 2005).
Well, that shows you how out of touch Bush really and truly is with everyday Americans, but despite the fault in his logic and lack of understanding of why this woman is working three jobs, he’s also not that far off from the truth that working so much is “uniquely American” – just not for the reasons that he thinks.
In the end, as you might have guessed, I enjoyed my un-American 4th of July activities more than I did my American activities. I’m not against working hard or even doing so on weekends or holidays if that’s what you want to do, but I think things might be getting a bit out of hand if all of this work is not moving our society ahead for everybody.