A recent arrival in America, I often get asked what I like most about living in the United States. Here are my outsider’s impressions about the US and some of the many reasons I love living here.
The first reason I love living in America is Mississippi. I might be British by birth, but I’m Mississippi by choice – and I cannot think of any place I would rather live than right here in the Magnolia state.
The climate is delightful – even in July and August. There’s more sunshine most mornings in Mississippi than you’d expect to see in a month in London.
It’s not just the climate that is warm and sunny, but the people. It is often impossible to go and buy gas or groceries without falling into cheerful conversation with a total stranger. Never feel defensive about being from Mississippi. To me, it is an honor to call this place home.
Second, I love America’s energy & enthusiasm. It is easy to overlook things that seem familiar to us. We all take for granted what we know. But take it from me when I tell you that Americans are full of infectious enthusiasm.
Almost everyone you meet is upbeat about something. Folk harbor real pride in their community, university, high school, military, work, state and, yes, country.
There’s far less of that cynicism-masquerading-as-sophistication in America compared with what you find elsewhere (Yes, and that’s even after you take into account one or two Mississippi newspaper columnists, too!).
I suspect that this enthusiasm is one of the secrets of America’s success. It helps explain why people in the United States are so entrepreneurial. Enthusiasm confers on Americans, especially younger Americans, a can-do attitude that drives them to do things and to innovate.
Third, I love American civic-mindedness. When tornados devastated several towns in the Delta the other week, I was struck by how ordinary Mississippians responded. They didn’t talk about what the government should do to help but did it themselves.
Churches rallied round. Rotary clubs and others sent supplies to those impacted. One gentleman I was talking to down in Pascagoula this week went to one of the areas affected and took it upon himself to rebuild the home of someone that he met there.
When Fox News’ Douglas Murray came to speak in Jackson a while ago, he explained why he was optimistic about America’s future. Americans, he said, don’t sit around waiting for the cavalry to arrive. They realize that they are the cavalry – and act. I can see what he means.
Fourth is football (although some of y’all perhaps think that should be first). I was raised playing rugby and cricket, and I never saw a football game until two years ago. Now there’s nowhere I’d rather be on a Friday night than watching the local high school game.
Football is not just a game – it’s the entire school or university putting on a spectacular performance full of infectious pride. Come to think of it, football is a perfect fusion of American enthusiasm and civic-mindedness, which is maybe why I like it so much ….
“Is there anything you miss about England?” I am occasionally asked.
America is awesome and there’s not much I would want to change about this amazing country. But if there were two things I would do differently, it would be hot tea and roundabouts.
No matter how much I love sweet tea, I sometimes struggle to find hot tea served the way it is supposed to be. As for roundabouts, they seem to me to be the perfect libertarian way of managing the traffic. No need for any government-run traffic lights, but an entirely self-regulating flow of traffic instead. I’m more than happy to live with those two minor imperfections.
Douglas Carswell is the President and CEO of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy.