Is America really that great?

Find it out for yourself...

Dr.Rakesh Shah 

Well, before I start to talk about how I see, feel, experience, understand and live America, I have got few disclaimers.

Here they are :

1. I have been in the USA since 1998 and I am US citizen. So, obviously, my observations and statements are going to be biased ones.

2. My tendency will be to highlight and amplify the positive side of America, that does not mean that everything is rosy here every day. America has got its own problems (Like Drug addiction, Mental health, gun violence, and weather, just to name a few) and it’s not a perfect country by any means(although it is pretty close to it)

3. Whatever I say here is true most of the times, there are times when exact opposite also happens - nothing is 100%

4. Whatever I am talking here is about day to day life for common people- I am least concerned about what happens at the top level as long as it does not affect the life of a common man directly In a major and a negative way.

5. Everything I say here is based on my own experience and observation. Your observation and experience may be little different or exact opposite

6. The purpose of this post is NOT to make anyone feel bad about where they live if they are not in America. The whole idea is to show what is possible if it does not exist.

7. There can be some drawbacks also to the same positive aspects that make America great.

8. It's not that other countries do not have what I have mentioned below - but it is hard to find one country where you get everything in once place - Its a package deal - when you buy into America, you've got it all.

9. Most of the things I am saying here apply more or less equally to Canada too.

Now, let us get to the heart of why America is still the best country in the world.

1. America is NOT a country :

Yes, you read it right. It is NOT a country. It is a THOUGHT PROCESS. We all who came to this country, obviously came for a “better life”(some call it - economic refugees or escape artists or bhagode), but we all gravitated for a common thought process and that is - Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

No matter which country we came from (we are all immigrants here- unless you are Native American - some came 2 decades ago and some came 2 centuries ago), this thought process binds us.

That brings me to my next point - freedom

2. Freedom :

Freedom is like love. If you have to ask, “am I in love?” - then probably you are not.

People who are in love knows it deep within. They do not need any external validation.

Same way, when you’re in America, you will FEEL the freedom (within the boundary of the law of course).

You’re free to do whatever you want as long as you do not break the law and do not interfere with someone else’s life.

Here, if you choose, you can live your life 100% on your terms, no one will bother you, unlike many countries where you are living your life only 20% and remaining 80% - other people and societal norms dictate how you will live your life.

3. Land of the opportunity :

The streets of America are not paved with gold but they are filled with golden opportunities.

It’s up to you to grab the opportunity and make it big. This is the only country where an average person with dream, idea, and willingness to work hard can go from zero to top income bracket in a matter of years and that also completely legally. No one can and will stop you from it.

The history of USA is filled with thousands of examples like that - I am one of them.

The whole infrastructure is set in a way to help you succeed.

4. Respect for fellow human being :

In my opinion, this is one of the best things that one can hope for to make day to day life fun and easy to live.

No matter who you are, you are going to get respect as s human being. And you do the same - no matter what the other person is, you give him/her a total respect is a human being.

There is no difference between a doctor and a janitor-we may not have same degrees or wealth - but as a human being, we are equal.

You all may have seen pictures where President Obama was standing in the line trying to get his coffee. It does not matter if you are a president or any big shot, if someone came before you, he will get service before you and you have to wait.

In my emergency room also, everyone gets the same treatment regardless of their race or financial status.

And this respect for fellow human shows up in a day to day life, when we all smile at strangers, say hi to them and always willing to help.

When police stop you, they talk to you with the utmost respect.

5. No one is above the law :

No matter who you are, if you break the law, you are bound to face consequences.

On the same token, if you do not break the law, no one will bother you.

6. The country of system and tools :

Being a capitalist country, the whole focus is to maximize profit in everything one does.

As a result of this, America has become the country of system and tools - to get maximum output from any human or non-human efforts.

The use of the system in anything reduces human errors. Just to give you an example to understand the value of the system (this is NOT specific to America, this is just for the example purpose) - before a plane takes off, the pilot has to go through the checklist to make sure everything is in place and working properly.

Same way, in each and every field and task, America has a system of doing things.

And the use of tools is its maximum to reduce human efforts in executing any task.

7. The country of feedback :

No matter who you are, you are going to get ongoing feedback about your performance at work.

What does it mean?

For the most part, it gives an opportunity to get better at what you do as a professional.

On the same token, if the recipients of your service consistently give the feedback that you are NOT good - you will be FIRED or face similar consequences.

This keeps all of us on the cutting edge of performance. We all have to perform at high standard consistently, otherwise - we will be out.

And it is good for the recipients - they know that there is a built-in mechanism to keep eye on everyone.

And looking at the other side of the coin, If I am on the receiving end - I know that if I am not satisfied with service, I can go to someone to complain and I know that action will be taken.

All the businesses send out surveys after you receive product or service from them. And they actually pay attention to what you write in the survey.

8. The country where you can return anything...

Yes, you can buy anything here without any tension - if you do not like it, you can return it - most stores give you ample time (days) to use the product before you have to return it if you do not like it.

9. Attention to detail :

I am always amazed how much attention to detail is given in anything and everything - may it be a building construction or road signs or restrooms or ay product(like apple).

A person's need is anticipated in advance - for example - you may be hiking on a mountain (the one that most people normally go - not the rare one) and after some time you get an urge of using restroom(toilet) - you will be surprised that you will probably see restroom within minute.

Same way, whether it is a railways station or farmer's market - you name it. Everything is well thought out ahead of the time - like parking, rest area etc..

10. Food, Shelter, and Gas(Petrol) :

When you are traveling by road, these 3 are you main things. On most highways, you will see Motel/Hotel, Restaurants and Gas stations - almost every miles - but for sure every 5-10 miles.

11. 911 :

Its a blessing for all of us - to be able to dial 911 and get any type of help, no matter where we are.

Our calls are automatically routed to appropriate dispatch area based on our location and the dispatcher will automatically know our location, most of the time.

This way, even if someone is NOT in a position to talk, he/she will be tracked down to get help.

12. Preserving Natural Resources :

America is blessed with tremendous natural resources - and it knows how to respect and preserve it.

I have seen plenty of times - how the building is constructed to save a precious old tree.

There are laws across the country where you can not do certain things that will affect the beauty and nature - and the good thing is - everyone follows those laws.

13. Attractions and Tourist places :

Just to give you a simple example - Disney World in Orlando, Florida attracts more than 52 Million people every year. I have been there plenty of time and NOT a single time I have seen ANY chaos. Everything is planned so well - it runs like a clockwork.

Same thing with Las Vegas - no matter how busy it gets, I have not seen ANY chaos and I have been there enough time too.

14. Education :

It is a well-known fact that people from all over the world come to the USA to study - Out of Worl's top 25 Universities, 17 are in the USA. The college education is NOT cheap though.

For school - from Kindergarten to 12th grade - the education is FREE. And you do not have to worry about admission. You automatically get the admission in the school where you live.

And another thing - the flexibility. Just because you chose one academic path, does not mean that you are stuck for the life. You can always change it.

15. Identity as a country :

No matter where we came from and which state we live - we are all AMERICANS. We take pride in identifying ourselves as AMERICANS rather than belonging to one state or cast.

And on the same token, Government takes its citizens seriously. If you are US Citizen and if you get in any trouble, US Government will go out of its way to make sure you are safe and your interests are taken care of.

A few years ago, President Obama personally intervened in a child custody case of a person who was originally from South America but was a US citizen.

16. Least racism :

This is the country with the most open-minded people (contrary to what you may think right now, based on what current president is saying or doing) - in 2 decades of my life in the USA, I may have felt may be a slight pinch of racism once, at the most twice. All other encounters of my life here in the USA have been very healthy and with highly open-minded people, who are ready to welcome you with open arms.

If one has talent and ability, he/she can climb all the way to the top - yes, all the way to the top i.e. the President of the country...

On the contrary, I found myself thinking like a racist many a times and I am ashamed of it.

17. Sex is NOT a taboo here :

People talk about as if it is a normal part of life.

Now, that does not mean that - that is all Americans talk and do. It is considered part of life - just like anything else.

18. Quality of Products :

Funny thing about life is - if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you usually get it.

America refuses to accept poor quality products - and that is why even China sends it best products to USA ( it may be sending poor quality products to other countries, but when it comes to the USA, they do not compromise in quality)

19. The country of readers :

The country that reads, grows - this is true for America.

I have seen more number of people reading a book at public places in the USA while waiting (like at Airport, at Doctor's office, at the train station) than anywhere else.

Due to smartphones, nowadays, I am seeing less number of people reading the actual book, but I am sure some of them (like me) are not just checking their Facebook or WhatsApp for an hour. We actually read books on the phone.

20. Becoming Weather-proof :

I live in the south, so we have pretty good weather most of the time, but the north is NOT blessed with good weather year around.

Weather is NOT the strong point for America - but America has managed to design and build everything in a way that there is the least amount of interference in day to day life due to weather.

21. The country of Data :

We all came to know about the value of data recently when we found out how facebook using our date.

But, America has been country of date for decades.

For everything, America uses data - for planning, execution and for future prediction.

I will give you one example - when a new road is built - they analyze - how many cars will pass every day now and 10 years from now, how much is the population around and what is the projection.

For every new creation - ma it is a new gas station or a railway station or to allocate research fund - America takes help of Data to plan and build.

22. The country of research :

Every year, when Nobel prices are announced, you will see how many Americans are in there.

This itself shows how conducive this country is to original research - in all areas of life and science.

23. The country of sports :

The same thing applies to sports - look a the number of medals America wins every year - consistently for decades - this will show the country's dedication to sports.

24. The US Passport :

For the most part, US Passport means total freedom to travel the world.

Even the way the Immigration officer looks at you when you have US Passport is different than when you have a passport from any other country. I have experienced it myself.

25. The Highway System :

I wrote a big post like this on US Highways a few months back.

You may want to go back to that post to know more about US Highway/Interstate system - it is simply awesome.

I have posted the link in the comment section.

26. Maintenance is the key :

Building something is one thing and keeping that thing in a great functional and also beautiful shape is another thing.

Everything in America has a scheduled maintenance - it could be a cardiac monitor in my ER or a bridge on a highway or the floor in an office building or an elevator in the hospital - everything is kept in working conditions all the time. There is someone always assigned to it.

27. There is always a Plan B :

For any process, if Plan A does not work, there is always a Plan B in place - and most of the time in the writing.

For example - if power fails, what happens next -it is in writing.

There is a person who is always responsible for that Plan B to work in case Plan A fails.

28. Always ready country :

Schools, Hospitals, and all the public places - we all go through many drills every year to prepare us for any unexpected emergencies - like fire, bioterrorism attack, and other disasters.

It is part of the normal protocol to be ready for everything - we may not use it ever - but we are ready.

29. Honesty :

I can keep my home’s door open and no one steals anything (except in a rare case

I forgot something at the store. I call the store and they have my stuff saved.

The person who found it, did not take it home.

This type of honesty makes life so easy

30. Respect for time :

If I said I will be there at 10 am, I am there at 10 am

If the meeting start time is 9 am, it will start at sharp 9 am.

If the sign says that store will open at 8 am, it will open at 8 am

We show respect by respecting the time

31. The restrooms/toilets :

I kind of touched upon this before, but wanted to highlight this particular aspect of America.

As I said before, on the highway, you will see motel, restaurants and gas station every few miles. They all will have nice and clean restrooms/toilets. You do not have to buy anything to be able to use the toilets.

Same way, anywhere in the city also, you can go to ANY business building and use their restroom without hesitation.

This may not sound like a big deal but if you were ever in a country where you had to hold for a long time because there were no restrooms around - you will know that having plenty of clear restrooms around is a blessing

32. Safety :

Safety first is the motto- whether it’s kids’ toys or roads or hospital or going to the moon - despite recent gun violence

33. Keeping America beautiful:

Yes, the government does its part to keep everything neat and clean, but the reason America looks beautiful is this - everyone keeps their own home and workplace in up to date condition - including the lawn and yard.

And no one throws trash on the road.

34. Every thing is simple and easy :

Remember - if you have to use force or strength or too much extra effort to do anything in USA then you are probably doing it wrong.

Everything here is simple and to the point. You just need to read and follow the instructions. 

Ultimately, it all boils down to what Thomas Jefferson said as an inalienable right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" in the Declaration of Independence.

And I live it, feel it and experience it every day...

Thanks America...

                                                                                                           Dr. Rakesh Shah, MD

                                                                                                                         Atlanta, GA

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