Pride

Michelle Obama’s comment, “For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country,” has set a lot of people talking.  And perhaps even thinking. 

If you’re looking for me to bash Michelle Obama–or even defend her–you’re wasting your time.  There are plenty of other sites where you can find that.

I’m more concerned about the bigger picture; namely:  the state of this country; is it something to be proud of; and is a lack of pride unpatriotic and unamerican?

As to the state of this country–We’ve definitely got a lot of things going for us.  Freedom, Democracy, The Constitution, Bill of Rights, technology, ad infinitum.  We’ve also got a lot of things going against us.  Encroachment on rights and freedoms, poverty, apathy, ad infinitum.

Is the US the best country in the world?  There was a time when I would rush to answer that question, without thinking, resoundingly: YES!!!  OF COURSE!!!  That was also during a time when I rushed to answer a lot of questions without thinking.  How would I answer it now?  I don’t know.  Seems to me that America is not as great as she once was.  Does that mean she’s beyond redemption and hope?  By all means, no!  Does that mean I’m ready to give it all up and move to Canada?  No.  I can understand to a large degree why so many Americans find it important to believe America is the greatest country in the world.  We’re a competitive people.  And stubborn.  Want proof?  Look at how we back our sports teams.  The 49ers haven’t won a Superbowl in years and yes, they’re still the greatest football team in the country.  Want proof?  Just ask me (or any other “true” 49er fan)! 

Bill Mahr said something recently that makes sense to me.  He said, “Why does America have to be the best for everyone?  Why can’t it just be the best for us?” 

I want differences.  I don’t want everything and everybody to be the same.  Granted, I may not like all the differences–just like I don’t always like every dish on a restaurant menu, but I sure do appreciate the variety and availability of choices.  I do not believe the rest of the world has to model how they do everything after America.  In the grand scheme of things, it might do to remember that when it comes to age America is a young country.  So yeah we may mix things up a bit, do things differently (like drive on the right side of the road instead of the left)–but different isn’t always better.  It’s not always worse.  Sometimes it’s just, well, different.

There are A LOT of things that make me proud to be an American.  There are things that make me ashamed as well.  I think that’s healthy.  I think that’s realistic.  I don’t always like things that my country does.  Does that mean I’m jumping ship?  No.  Do I have to always like and approve of everything my country does?  Hell no!  Parents can love their children unconditionally without being proud of their every action, decision, and word.  Parents can love their children always even when they disapprove of what their children have done.  Parents can support their children even when their children have made egregious mistakes.  I realize not all parents do so…but wouldn’t our children be better if all parents did do so?  Why can’t we take the same stance with our country?

A lot of men and women have sacrificed greatly to secure this country (and not just those who gave their lives…those who served, and their families).  Does questioning this country, its condition, and expressing displeasure (or even dare I say shame) negate those sacrifices, make them worth any less?  I don’t think so!  In fact, I think holding one’s tongue, blind faith in the government, and a refusal to see what is working and good as well as what is not is more disrespectful to those who have sacrificed than speaking the truth is.  After all with the truth comes the possibility that things may change–and for the better.

It’s easy to jump ship just because you don’t like something–but honouring a commitment to one’s country is proven not when one is happiest with one’s country, but when one is most unhappy with it. 

What makes a patriot?  The dictionary has this to say:

pa·tri·ot      [pey-tree-uht, -ot or, especially Brit., pa-tree-uht] Pronunciation KeyShow IPA Pronunciation

–noun

1. a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.
2. a person who regards himself or herself as a defender, esp. of individual rights, against presumed interference by the federal government.
3. (initial capital letter) Military. a U.S. Army antiaircraft missile with a range of 37 mi. (60 km) and a 200-lb. (90 kg) warhead, launched from a tracked vehicle with radar and computer guidance and fire control.

[Origin: 1590–1600; < MF patriote < LL patriōta < Gk patrités fellow-countryman, lineage member]

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

Notice–there’s nothing in there that says a patriot must be proud of their country.  Food for thought, most definitely.

Something else to think about–John Adams said, “Democracy… while it lasts is more bloody than either aristocracy or monarchy. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide. ” 

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