The more we travel, the more we love the United States. Over the last weeks, driving through the National Parks of Utah and the mountains of Colorado, we must have said "we live in an amazing country!" to each other three dozen times. Probably more.
Truth be told, we're not always on the ultra-pro-USA bandwagon. I have to admit that this – currently favorable – opinion is heartily bolstered by Obama's declaration of acceptance regarding marriage equality. But, political gushing aside, we're reasonably sold on the idea that this country has something for pretty much everyone. For all our "we're moving to ______ (insert: Canada, Argentina, Spain, South Africa, Iceland or Denmark)!" smack talk, we'd probably choose the United States if it ever came to that.
More than the incredible outdoor opportunities and electrifying cities, our country serves up diversity, possibility and innovation like no other that we know of. We're especially proud of the freedom that we enjoy and the relative ease with which we can move around. That freedom – and our democracy – gives us the priceless gift of being able to openly voice our opinions and shape our laws. Moreover, we have the practically unheard of luxury of taking our causes to both our state and national capitals.
Particularly passionate about the eradication of poverty and a world that's more hospitable for everyone, we've met face-to-face with our senators and representatives a number of times over the last several years. There aren't many countries where you can do that. We are fortunate.
As citizens of this country, it's our duty to exercise the democracy-centric values that serve as our foundation. Sure, greed, corruption and corporate interests all too often get in the way of humanistic legislation, but it's our democracy. If we give up or quit voicing our opinions, what happens next?
Few things are a more profound reminder of this than our springtime advocacy trip to DC. At the time, we wrote about stumbling upon a huge Tea Party Patriot Rally (in all its hate spewing and anti-"Obamacare" glory) outside of the Supreme Court building. Wanting to voice an alternative viewpoint, we shoved ourselves into the mix and expressed our pro-healthcare reform stance. Before long, other similarly minded advocates emerged from among the crowd, and we had our own small-scale rally that ended up making an impact. It felt great.
Today, we stand tall knowing that our country made another step in the direction of expanding opportunity. By allowing all people more reasonable and affordable access to healthcare, we're moving in the right direction. If we've said it once we've said it a million times... A country with this kind of wealth can certainly provide all people with a stable ladder to a better life. We are each responsible for getting up the ladder, but a solid ladder needs to be in place.
Too often in our own country – and, of course, even more so around the world – the poor and the unconnected are treated like ghosts. Invisible. We try to do what we can to change that, to advocate for initiatives and ideas that expand opportunity and provide hope to those who are often forgotten and left behind.
If you're someone who makes decisions and votes "with your wallet," we urge you to reconsider. Join us in making decisions that honor the fact that we're all connected – what's good for you is good for me.
As gay guys who like to rally for the underdogs in life, we've been screamed at, belittled, spit on and called pretty much every name in the book. We've stopped caring about that kind of feedback. It's a privilege to live a decent life and to live in a country that allows us to have a voice. We won't be distracted by nay-sayers. And, on days like today with the big healthcare announcement, I can't imagine living anywhere else.
Do you have it pretty good? Please join us in continuing to move the conversation from "me" to "we." Trust us, it feels a whole lot better than thinking only with your wallet.
In honor of our 2012 NVR Project, we're going to be introducing some more new things here in the coming months. First up = a theme of the month. Ah, we love a good theme. What better way than to springboard off this post and honor our country than by starting with an "All American" theme for July.