Patriotism is not Mandatory (thankfully)
I'm not feeling particularly patriotic this Fourth of July. I imagine that some people, assuming anyone even starts reading this little blog at all, will stop after that first sentence. But please bear with me. I am not about to go off on an anti-American rant. Like everyone else I suppose, I have limited control of my emotions. The important thing is what I will do or not do with these feelings of negativity.
The main feeling I have toward my country these days is embarrassment. From what I can gather, there are many other Americans who feel the same. I have this strange burning desire to hug a Canadian and explain that not all of us Americans have gone off the deep end. A part of me is also wondering if there are some not so freaking cold parts of Canada where we may some day go to retire.
So I will not be found tomorrow tearing up at the sound of the national anthem or swelling with pride when I see an orgy of flags fluttering in the breeze. Don't get me wrong. I will still be eating some barbeque, drinking a bit of beer, and watching fireworks blow up. I'm not a freaking communist after all. But I doubt that I will be feeling much of anything that resembles pride in my country.
There are still some things, however, that I like about living in this society that seems to get more materialistic, arrogant, and ignorant all the time. (Or at least that's how it feels.) One is the fact that I can still, in the year 2018, post a blog for my countrymen and world to see (assuming anyone actually reads it) and say that I am not feeling a lot of love for my government and country in general without fear of any kind of significant reprisal, and I think that the overwhelming majority of Americans want to keep it that way.
People who say, "love it or leave it" don't seem to get what this country is at its best. We live in a place where no one is obligated to love or even like living here. And thankfully, no one is mandated to participate in patriotic rituals that have no meaning when they are mandated. So if you want to get all patriotic tomorrow or any other day of the year, knock yourself out. But if you are as good of an American as you say you are, don't pressure anyone else to join you. And if anyone tries to stop you from waving your flag, feel free to call them a bad American for me.
Paul Swendson (author) on July 24, 2018:
Yes, I hope that our current president understands the importance of remembering our allies. Good friends can be hard to find.
Paul Swendson (author) on July 24, 2018:
Well said. Whether or not the United States always lives up to the noble principles on which it is founded, those principles still matter. And partly because of the inspiration of those principles, the United States in many ways is a better country than when it was founded. I try to remember that when I get depressed about the current state of affairs.
Don Shepard on July 04, 2018:
Pretty much sums it up for me. I'm choosing to remember the importance of our allies this Fourth of July. Thanks to France for all of its support during our Revolutionary War.
RTalloni on July 03, 2018:
No matter what country we live in there will be things we like and dislike about it. The fact is, though, that as an American I'm thankful to be one. As for Canadians, take comfort, they are not all so stupid as to think all Americans are the same. Many of us say HURRAH with our Canadian friends on their holidays and many there say the same to us on ours in spite of what media tries to tell us.
Patriotism can't be mandated, though many dictators have tried. It's a bit like the child told to sit in the corner for bad behavior..."I may be sitting on the outside but I'm standing on the inside!" If I'm working for my employer on a patriotic holiday then I have a duty to do what he says about observing the day whether I agree or not, but as an American if I'm on my own time then I am indeed free to both observe the day as I please and free to encourage (but should not try to pressure) others to observe it the same way.
Pressuring tends to make people dig their heels in on any issue so it's unproductive anyway. If the pressure mentioned here has to do with all the sports brouhaha re the flag then that makes me look at both sides, meaning pressure from athletes who take people's money (a lot of their money!) for entertainment yet want to make them think about politics when they paid to relax.
True gratitude can take us a long way in life. There's never been a time in history when this or any other country did not have things to be proud of and things to be grieved over, but no country has been a Republic like ours, given so much aid and opportunity to so many, or had so many citizens give so much for their fellow countrymen to have so much to be thankful for, which is why some will say love it or leave it.
That is not to say that other countries have not done well, but ours is unique in many ways. The great American experiment may yet fail as Franklin warned when on leaving Independence Hall in 1787 he was queried about what sort of country had been given the people, "A Republic, if you can keep it." Why he said that is an interesting study.
This has such a good closing that I had to think through the various messages in the post. My conclusion is that no matter what country we belong to we should commend what is good, raise the bar for those around us in all areas, and work together in an honest manner to solve problems.
In a 1981 Yorktown speech it was declared that, "Our Declaration of Independence has been copied by emerging nations around the globe, its themes adopted in places many of us have never heard of. Here in this land, for the first time, it was decided that man is born with certain God-given rights. We the people declared that the government is created by the people for their own convenience."
In America too many have become ashamed of the freedom to own and guard our story and to respond to situations by choosing to do good no matter what vicious things anyone else says or does. Positive change begins one person at a time and hopefully there will be discussions around picnic tables this summer that help people grow up.