Key bullet points for the people who don't bother to read before becoming outraged:
• I am not calling anyone unpatriotic.
• I am not questioning your right to your beliefs, nor am I saying your beliefs are wrong.
• I am not saying "you damn Republicans!" or "you damn Democrats!"
So today I did what I do most every morning, which is get up, snarl at the world because the world hates me and I hate it right back, stumble to the coffee machine, make the Blessed Brown Juice of Happiness™, then sit down at my kitchen table and hop on The Twitter. Yes, even on Independence Day, I do this (I am @scottsigler on The Twitter, by the way, so follow me already).
The people I follow on Twitter cover wide swaths of various political beliefs. Most I followed way back when, when Twitter was new and I followed everyone who followed me. As a fiction writer who gave stories away for free, I drew everything from ultra-right conservative Christians to ultra-left progressives (the fact that my fiction seems to be apolitical continues to delight and surprise me). So in my daily Twitter feed, I get about equal amounts of rehetoric from both sides. It helps keep me, I think, from becoming a lever-puller for ideology, from becoming someone who spouts the party line an shouts "it's all that team's fault!" It helps prevent me from not thinking for myself.
So today on the Fourth of July, America's birthday, as usual I see many of The Tweets. Large numbers of them express pride for our country and for being an American. But what drives me crazy is most of them also include something America does wrong. Examples:
- I'd feel patriotic today if the TSA wasn't busy groping me.
- Enjoy your Independence Day, because you know the NSA is watching to make sure that you do, good citizen.
- I'm proud to be an American, but this government makes me sick!
- This is not the America if our founding fathers: they wouldn't recognize this country.
- Note: I'm not going to list names of the Tweeters or show their Tweets, because they are absolutely entitled to say whatever they like and they don't need to catch hell for it.
There are so many similar sentiments that seem to say: "I love my country, but I feel bad for saying so unless I qualify it with something we do wrong." And to these people I say, "It's OK to just be flat-out proud to be an American today."
You can qualify your national pride if you want, of course, but don't feel compelled that you have to, or it somehow shows you're not smart, not perceptive, that you're part of the problem, or that you are a "sheeple." When it comes to your love of your country, particularly on Independence Day:
- You don't have to qualify it to assuage your national guilt.
- You don't have to qualify it so others know how smart you are, and know that you see the real story.
- You don't have to qualify it because you think that if you don't, it means you approve of everything this country does.
Yes, Virginia, it's okay to just flat-out be proud today. Has America done (and continues to do) shitty things? Absolutely. Has every other country on the face of the planet also done shitty things, throughout history? Absolutely.
But, has America also done great things? Of that there is no question. No matter what your political bent, you can point to that historical timeline and see things that America has done well, things that we continue to do well. And the starting point of all things "American," all the things that we can say that our nation invented/performed/perfected/adopted/changed/sacrificed/fought/altered, that officially began on this day, 237 years ago, when a group of people signed the Declaration of Independence.
To me, that sounds like something worth praising, something worth celebrating. I don't need to qualify this good thing with something bad.
It's okay to be proud. That doesn't take anything away from your outrage, and it doesn't mean that you aren't one of the special people who are "truly in the know."
Happy Birthday, America. I am proud to be one of your people.