There are people who, instead of listening to what is being said of them, are already listening to what they are going to say themselves.
Joseph-Marie de Maistre
Forget the preamble and flowery introduction. Let me get right to the point: America is the best country in the world, bar none.
I realized this the last time Satan went to church.
Back in September, while vacationing in Louisiana, my wife and I attended a Baptist churchis Sunday service (thatis where the Satan part comes in; Iim a Christian iconoclast and self-avowed heretic; my wife, however, is an angel). It was the first weekend after September 11, and the preacher weaved into his sermon comments about the World Trade Center attacks.
His comments took me aback, because he was, essentially, critical of the U. S. Basically he said this: we shouldnit be surprised that the U. S. was attacked, because our government has done and/or sponsored equally atrocious things on foreign soil. In short, he said that the Trade Center attack was the proverbial chicken coming home to roost.
I was irked, because I felt that his comments were uncalled for and were not the most appropriate things to say with the deaths of 5,000 Americans fresh on our collective mind. I had expected such comments to spew from the Louis Farrakhanis of the world, but not from the mouth of a member of the Protestant clergy. His comments caused me to reassess my feelings about America, which were ambivalent at best, ungrateful at worst, similar to Mr. Preacher Manis on average.
What a difference a terrorist attack makes.
As I type this, I remember when I thought thoughts similar to those uttered by that preacher. I remember when I questioned the goodness of America; I remember when I questioned whether or not I really live in the best nation on the Earth; more times than not, I answered that question in the negative.
I am sure that my change of heart and concomitant patriotism is due to a good job, a good home, etc. Sure, itis easy to wave the flag when all is going well, but Iid like to think that a little living, and a little introspection contributed as well. What also helped to color me red, white and blue was having dealt with and observed people who, judging from their language, hate America. Some of them are friends.
Maybe "hate" is too harsh a word. The more correct assessment is that they hardly ever have anything good to say about their home country. "America is racist," they say. "America wrongly imposes its will on other nations," they say. "America has no right to meddle in othersi affairs," they say. Couple this with the news footage of Pakistanis and other Middle Easterners burning American flags and George W. Bush effigies, and you have a portrait of a world where America isnit always viewed in a flattering light.
I used to wonder why non-Americans hated America, but now I know: some non-Americans hate America because of the freedom it represents and because of the freedom that it provides to its citizens. Thatis simple; weive always said that.
Hating othersi freedom is a part of human nature. Some hate the freedom enjoyed by the rich and famous. The "haveis" suffer the envy of the "have notis." iTis common.
Those who possess freedom often unintentionally enrage those who do not. We who daily chase our tails in the rat race long for the real or imagined hassle-free existence enjoyed by those who live beyond our means. But true freedom goes beyond have and have not.
Another facet of being free is the freedom to venture beyond the conformity of ideology, of social norm, of societal expectation. The "free" donit allow norms and rules to hinder them from exploring beyond what is commonly known or experienced. This freedom is commonly exhibited by the artist.
I, for example, like to explore, as a writer, outside the popular opinions held by the Mac-using public. I have no problem espousing what could be an unpopular opinion. I say whatever I want, whenever I want. To me, that is freedom. There are many who hate me for it and arenit shy about letting me know their feelings. To me, Iim just exercising my freedom. Itis no different from what every American does daily.
I thank God that I am able to explore ideas, thoughts and feelings within these pages, learning as I go along, growing as a result.
Only in America.
It is no accident that many of the major innovations and movements began in America. It is due to American freedom that my countrymen have come up with ideas that have shaped and changed the rest of the world. Apple Computer is a prime example.
This company exercises its freedom to shun convention and standards to push technological envelopes vis-á-vis hardware and software. I believe it is this freedom to innovate that draws the ire of the PC world. Everyone would prefer Apple to be a "slave," concentrating on expanding current concepts. That would expand the market share and propel the company to heights deemed unreachable if it continues down its current road of Think Different. In this regard, freedom is the road less traveled, for not everyone is bold enough to handle the loneliness that freedom brings.
To be free is to leave the herd. To be free is to take chances. To be free is to be accepting the risk of being wrong. Freedom isnit safety. Thatis why Frederick Douglass once said that "freedom is a road seldom traveled by the multitude."
Unfortunately, for Apple to enjoy its freedom, it pays the cost in small market share and from the ridicule of those who wonit free themselves from the road much traveled. America pays the price of freedom by allowing room for things like the tragedy of September 11. I take the risk of freedom in my writing by risking the hatred of a small segment of readers who canit handle what I say.
The highest cost of freedom is existing outside oneis comfort level. Many are scared of not being comfortable. This comfort is threatened when there is a computing platform that isnit like theirs, when there is a country that isnit like theirs, when there is an opinion expressed that isnit theirs.
By the definition of freedom that Iive set forth, it could be safe to argue that Apple and I are two of the few groups and individuals who truly know what real freedom is, and most importantly, have the guts to exercise it to its fullest extent.
The Mac is the most-loved computer in the world; no other platform has such a following. Rodney O. Lain is the most-loved writer on the Mac web; no one ever has anything bad to say about him or his writing. (Thereis a pattern here.) In spite of the incessant accolades heaped upon him, Rodney remains the most humble man in America. He said so himself. When he isnit busy exhibiting the epitome of self-effacing behavior, he writes his "iBrotha" column for The Mac Observer, as well as the occasional editorial.