2009-01-26: National Pride
On a forum I mod:
"[snippy rant about Michelle Obama's quote about finally being proud of her country] Americans have always been proud of their country. [rant goes on]"
I love this country to the depths of my bones, but there have been times when I have not been proud at all of our actions on the world stage, or the way we have under prepared and under served our military, or the way we have neglected our own children by gutting domestic programs in education, health care, and hunger relief. Like any nation, we have had great moments when we, as a nation, have exemplified what is best in humanity. Like any nation, we have had moments of grave error. Being unreservedly, unswervingly, blindly proud of one's country has lead to some of the most horrific events in world history.
Our ancestors who fought to make America independent were proud of what they had achieved. By the time of Jefferson, maybe they were proud of their country. My ancestors who fought to end slavery in the United States, because they knew what we could be if we rose to the best of our possibility, were longing to be proud of their country, and eventually they were. People who fight now, for civil rights and social reform at home and abroad, act with that same sense of striving for the best we can be as a nation. I want to be proud of the nation I love.
Like Michelle, I am proud of the way our nation has rolled up it's sleeves and asked "what can I do to help?" Like Michelle, I am proud of how very many people are now taking part in the political process who felt disenfranchised before. Like Michelle, I feel like we have a chance to be a united force for positive change in the world. Anyone can take a quote out of context, assign malice to it, intentionally misinterpret it and spin it like a top. I want to rise above that sort of out-dated stuff. I want to be proud of my country. And right now, I am.
2009-01-26 23:45:50 Ewen
Just this morning I read something pretty similar (only with finger-pointing at conservatives) here:
I've always said that America is great largely because of people who saw something wrong and went in there and did something to fix it.
2009-01-29 16:40:36 Emily
I completely agree. Pride of country is an unfamiliar feeling for me, too.
I went to visit DC a year or two ago, and visited the Library of Congress for the first time. I went to the Jefferson Building which is a masterwork of marble halls, adorned with murals depicting allegorical depictions of forms of art and science: History, Tradition, Science—even Erotica and Romance! Paintings and mosaics commemorate noteworthy thinkers, writers and artists from throughout history. The whole building is a tribute to knowledge and inspiration.
Seeing this building, I was overcome, for perhaps the first time in my life, with true pride in my country. The fact that others had felt strongly enough about these values—research, discovery, creativity—to enshrine them so beautifully and so lovingly, made me feel like at last there was something I could identify with in my nation of birth. Something other than the consumption, greed and bullying which I'd witnessed.
Seeing Barack Obama become president, and following along with the promises he has kept and the changes he has made in even just the first week of his administration, has given me that feeling again. I waved a flag at his inauguration whole-heartedly and unabashedly proud. A friend of mine said about the flags we held, "It's not ironic for once. We're not even going to burn them!"
Unconsidered flag waving and national pride over all can paint a dangerous picture. But being able to agree with your nation's direction, and feel enfranchised by those in power—that's just kind of how democracy is supposed to work. And a relief after a long time, for me, of alienation.