Who was it that said “Life is what happens while you're making other plans”? Murphy's law states that whatever can go wrong will and at the worst possible time. I'm here to tell you that the law has not been repealed.
I had the outline done for this month's post about 3 weeks ago. I finally sat down to finish it on New Years day and one of my faucets broke. Got that replaced and the roof started leaking in the bathroom. Got that repaired and cleaned up, sat down again to finish writing and my television blew up. That blew all the circuit breakers. Of course, that shut down my computer and the file for this post – which was open – got corrupted. Try, try again!
On 12-12-12, I turned on the boob-tube and watched a bunch of musicians, comedians, celebrities and ordinary folks put on the Sandy Relief Concert to raise money for victims of super-storm Sandy. There was a lot of good music and several nice, heart-felt speeches all asking for donations. It got me wondering.
I asked myself: where is the rest of the world when we need help? Forget Iran, Russia or any adversaries. What about our friends? Our allies? The countries and people that we give billions of dollars in aid to every year? Where are they when we're a bit down on our luck?
In 1868, a Russian author named Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky1 sat down to write a book about the perfect man. He ended up calling it “The Idiot" 2 (Russian: Идиот, Idiot).
As I finally got to work on this post, I completed my research and ended up completely destroying most of my preconceived notions regarding willingness of other nations to help those in need. I thought that the USA was the only country to pour out massive offers of help to disaster victims. I was wrong. Sometimes, we set out to prove one theory and end up proving just the opposite. As cynical as I am, it's nice to be wrong occasionally.
Every time there is a disaster anywhere in the world, we Americans line up to help. We send money, materials and people. We seem to be willing to help anybody, any time, any where. If North Korea had a tsunami, the American people would send help without hesitation. If Iran suffered an earthquake, we'd trip over ourselves to send medical help, clothing, food and water.
In sitting down to write this article, I had assumed - as many other Americans seem to falsely assume - that other countries around the world take all the help we can give but won't reciprocate when we are in need. A little research showed me just how far off the mark I was.
What I found out is that many, many times governments around the world have offered to us money, food, search and rescue teams, doctors and medical help and anything else that we might need3.
The reason that all that help either was slow in coming or didn't arrive at all was because of our governmental red tape, but that's a story for another time.
What became apparent to me was that, just like the USA, a myriad of countries wanted to and have offered help. Countless governments around the world. Yes; these include Russia, Iran and even North Korea.
In all my reading, one difference between America and all the other countries struck me (and PLEASE correct me if I'm wrong on this). Although our government does give a lot of help from the tax-payer coffers, it is Americans as a whole - our people - that give the real, desperately-needed help to victims around the world. We hold food drives and benefit concerts. School children write letters of sympathy and encouragement. Churches collect and send blankets and clothes to refugee camps. Cell phone companies set up collection drives for you to simply send a text and donate money.
While planning this article, I asked several people to tell me what they think makes America great. Sadly, only one person; my son (thank you, Michael) responded. Here's what he had to say:
America is a great nation, arguably the richest, most powerful nation on Earth. As such, citizens of this great nation don’t even begin to comprehend what it’s like to NOT be so great and powerful.
Let me shock you a bit: The median individual income for US citizens, 18 years and older, is $24,062. That includes the unemployed, the homeless, everyone.
Here’s the shocker; the median individual income *worldwide *is $1,700. That means that the median American will make more in 27 days than the median world citizen will make in a *year*. We see homeless, people that are hungry, the downtrodden, and we think we understand poverty, but we really don’t have a clue.
America loses less than 150 citizens a year to hunger, or aprox .0005% of the population. Worldwide, approximately 8.7 million, or .1% of the world’s population, die each year from hunger.
We simply cannot comprehend *what the rest of the world experiences, as far as poverty goes. I know you think you can, but unless you have lived in a 3rd world country, truly submersed yourself in poverty, you *just don’t get it*. I have lived in the US version of poverty, but I truly cannot comprehend what the poor of the rest of the world go though.
Secondly, the US economy is a global economy. We produced about 25% of the global GDP. We need consumers! We need the rest of the world to get above the poverty line, recover from their disasters, quit fighting, have a happy democracy, and start spending! Helping any country, anywhere in the world, with any problem, is in our national best interests.
So what does all that have to do with America being Great?
The United States of America is the greatest melting pot in world history. With the exception of Native Americans, almost everybody in the country can trace their heritage back to Europe, Africa, Scandinavia, the Middle or Far East and yet the populations of all these countries leave it to their governments to offer help. However, should these same people immigrate and become Americans, they seem to all “catch the fever” and just naturally want to reach out as individuals to people in need around the world.
So that's it! That's the key. It's our people. Americans are what makes America the greatest country in the world.
It's not our government or our constitution. Our farms and factories, music, schools, artists or athletes don't make us great. Americans! That's what makes America the greatest country in the world. I'm damn proud to be one.
At least that's my opinion. What's yours?
*What, you may ask, does this have to do with cryptography or any conspiracy? As far as cryptography: nothing! It is really a conspiracy in reverse; ie. People NOT banding together to do something. Think about it.
Have a conspiracy you'd like me to research? Got a question about crypto? Want to rant and rave about how crazy I am? Write your question or comment HERE and I'll do my best to find and post the answer.