Saturday, July 5, 2008

My 4th of July post, posted on the 5th of July

Sometimes I wonder if I am a horrible person for not being patriotic. 4th of July does not excite me all that much. I am nearly ambivalent to the waving of flags, and don't expect me to try to defend my Americanism to a foreigner.

I am getting a little better now, I at least appreciate what it means to be an American. But sometimes I just want to get away, fade, and tell people that I am Canadian. I have never been very interested in all the flag-waving bull shit. When I see the flag, not only do I see the world around me, but also the world that was destroyed in the process of getting here. From the Native Americans to slavery to the Civil War to Japanese internment camps during WWII. I see Vietnam and coffins coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. All in the name of patriotism and heroism. Obviously, there are certain situations that simply cannot be cured through diplomacy. But America cannot rule the world, either. We are in this weird transition period post-Cold War where we are the only super power left--but how long can we expect that to last? What if we weren't the strongest anymore? Would that be so awful?

There are certain things that America has achieved in the last 200 years that are extraordinary, hands down, but with every rise there also comes a fall. Just when we start to recognize a golden age is when it is on the way out. As an American living under the George W. Bush presidency, I feel trapped. I do not agree with the politics of my country. But does that mean that I should not be patriotic? I think it runs deeper than that. It is more the hubris that most people assume in being patriotic. Yet I think the French are endearing for the same thing.

There is so much about the United States that I dislike. The entire state of Texas, for example. Ignorance, obesity, a general lack of regard for the world around us. But what about the things that I do like? New York City, diversity, soul food, jazz, the layout of Washington, D.C., idols like Jefferson, Madison, Hammie, Lincoln, FDR, JFK, and Madeline Albright. These things are all uniquely American (save for Maddie Albright, who is actually European, and the Founding Fathers, who were actually British). I love the beaches of California, the wilderness of the Northwest, and Starbucks. As I think of these things, I am realizing that I am more patriotic than I realize.

But do I have to wave the flag?

1 comment:

Rob said...

Better the pride the resides, in a citizen of the world

Than the pride that resides, when colorful rag is unfurled