If you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch Michelle Obama’s fantastic speech here.
It’s hopeful, powerful, and evokes emotion.
I was getting chills while watching, which I can’t say is a common occurrence for me.
And then she said 10 words which made me absolutely cringe.
Ten words which made me wonder how closely my values actually aligned with hers after all.
“Because this, right now, is the greatest country on Earth.”
Noooo, Michelle! What?!
Not you, too.
Before I go any further, here’s what came immediately before that line, for context:
“So don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country isn’t great, that somehow we need to make it great again.”
I understand the point is to counter Trump, but there were so many other ways she could have done this.
But instead, she called America the greatest country on Earth.
Says who? And by what standards?
Are we looking at overall quality of life? Number of Olympic medals won? Advances in technology? The health of our citizens? Tastiest food options? Lowest unemployment rates? Quality of public education? Etc.
You know what, I don’t even want to entertain this half of it. Because criteria aside—and ignoring the fact that we’re absolutely not the “greatest” in so many categories—why are we speaking about a greatest country on the planet to begin with?
Why must there be a first place?
This isn’t a competition.
This is life: the daily struggles, the joys, the love, the grief, the curiosity, the adrenaline rush, the tears, the pride—our stories, past and present.
Why does that need to be ranked?
And it shouldn’t.
To me, “greatest country on Earth” sounds as foolish as “greatest parent on Earth.” There are tons of amazing parents on this planet. There’s no need—nor any good in—singling out one parent that’s better than all the rest.
How would that help us overcome the challenges that the world faces today?
How would that leave the world better off for the next generation?
So here’s what I say:
America is great.
And so is this planet.
So by working together with our fellow citizens of the world, we can all keep this world great—for everyone.