Nothing Special, Really

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

I Am Not Proud To Be An American

Do not misinterpret that title.

I don't hate my country. I don't hate the fact that I am American.

Don't label me "unpatriotic" or tell me to leave my country if I don't like it here.

I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. But that doesn't mean I have to be blindly proud of this country, of my nationality.
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I've had a slouching problem ever since I was younger. I still do, and try as I might, I often forget to keep my shoulders back. My mom would harp on me to stand up straight, to "take some pride in my appearance."

She would also use this refrain if I tried wearing sloppy clothers or bad hair in public.

"Take pride", she would say, meaning "represent yourself well and take comfort in that reprsentation."

My wardrobe has improved. My hair, well, that's taken care of itself. But I still slouch pretty often. But at least I take pride in my appearance these days, because I am comfortable, content, happy, with how I represent myself.
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I am not proud to be an American because I am not comfortable, content, happy, with what "being an American" means these days.

If "being an American" means fighting an unjust, unwinnable war, then I am not proud of that.

If "being an American" means continually sending troops to Iraq, these brave men & women who will defend our freedom in ways that I am not personally capable of, only to see them constantly killed for no explainable reason, then I am not proud to be an American.

If "being an American" means that I can't say that I don't support the war, than I am not proud to be an American.

If "being an American" means caring more about who wins American Idol than who wins the Presidential Election, or worshiping pop stars over the sacrifices of thousands of civil servants, or taking even the slightest interest in the life of Paris Hilton, then I am not proud to be an American.

If "being an American" means that we sit on our hands as problems of homelessness, social inequality, & poverty continue to grow, as we continue to destroy the environment in favor of being able to drive assault vehicles on the street, as we continue to let our civil liberties dwindle away while the government does at it pleases, as we continue to define our moral code as "what's in it for me?", then I am not proud to be an American.
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One year, back in the 80's, maybe early 90's, we spent the 4th of July at the State Capitol in Phoenix. It was your standard celebration: fireworks displays, country music, and plenty of red, white, & blue. I remember some of the fireworks were preceded by everyone's favorite 4th of July song. You know the one:

"And I'm proud to be an American
Where at least I know I'm free
And I won't forget the men who died
And gave that right to me
So I proudly stand up!....next to you
And defend her still today
'Cause there ain't no doubt, I love this land....
God Bless The U.S.A"

Funny to think that, when I was younger, I used to get chills to that song, that those words actually meant something to me.

I cringe every time I hear that song now.
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The point of this isn't to continually bash my country, to bash it's citizens. We're not perfect, but I still would choose this country over any other right now (well, at least certain areas of the country).

But I can't say that'll always be the case. I'm not satisfied with what our country is right now, and I certainly won't be satisfied with this country if we continue down the path we're headed.

There's two choices we could make. We could continue to ignore the problem, surround ourselves with modern comforts, continue to see the problem as "mine, not yours". Or, we could try to find a answer, work with our brothers & sisters in this country to find a common solution. Call me a idealist, an optimist, and I'll call you someone who doesn't see true patriotism.

It was over 200 years ago that this nation was founded by a group of people who wanted more out of their government, who wanted a better life, who were tired of the problems in their country. So they came here and worked together to create a new, better life (albeit by destruction of the indigenous people and the captivity of African slaves, but what's done is done).

We don't have a new country to go to. The only chance we have at a better life is to work together to solve the problems we face.

Educate yourself. Question authority. Embrace virtue.

Or, go see Transformers tomorrow. Go get drunk, eat some hot dogs, and shoot some illegal fireworks at your neighbors.

But ask yourself this: 231 years later, is this really what millions have sacrificed their lives for? Is this really something to be proud of? Can't we do even just a little bit better?

2 Comments:

  • Let's move to Canada!

    By Blogger wacarra, At July 5, 2007 at 12:12 PM  

  • Being American means to be able to say the things you just said, I think. I'm not an American and I am proud to be a Japanese. But I also love this country (and white girls, but that's a topic for a different day). I loved this post though. But I also remember that the beauty of this country is to be able to openly show disgust to things that you feel is wrong and openly embrace what you think is right... Sure, this isn't the only country like that.

    I find it funny that when I'm here and talking to my friends here, I bash a lot going on in this country, just like you did. I also find myself vigorously defending this country when I'm in Japan and my friends in Japan say something about the US. Every country has its good and bad. Things are magnified here cuz this is such a visible and large country. US is like the Paris Hilton of the world. Every move is followed and scrutinized. And they make good p0rn. :)

    By Blogger Alan aka RecessRampage, At July 30, 2007 at 1:13 PM  

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