In a post about Jimi Hendrix that I wrote about a week ago, I had a short little reflection on the reaction to Hendrix's rendition of the National anthem, and in that reflection I said that I would expand on my feelings about American patriotism in a future post. Well, this is that future post. (By the way the pics along the side and at the bottom are all from one I took the other day then tweaked a bunch on my computer. )
It seemed to me that a borderline racist version of patriotism pulsed through the veins of the majority of my high school's all-male student body. My approach started out as laughing along with what I though to be a joke then developed into ignoring the bigotry and hoping I could just close my ears to it until I graduated. Eventually, however, I found myself red-faced with rage and yelling at five other guys in the library when they made the statement that Mexicans (a term used by a lot of guys I went to high school with to describe anyone from Central and South America) should be shot if they try to illegally enter the United States and, later on in my senior year, confronting another student on the platform of school-wide mass emails in response to his call for a "USA" chant after Bin Laden was killed. Needless to say, I developed somewhat of a bitter approach toward any type of patriotism.
I understand that oppressed populations need to rally behind an idea in order to achieve liberty, and that idea in most cases is a country. But that, ladies and gentlemen, is nationalism, not patriotism. Patriotism is pride in one's country. The USA gained independence more than two hundred years ago. So... pride? Pride in what? Pride in the fact that the average american is overweight, uses more than his/her share of the world's natural resources, and has more money than the average citizen of most other countries? No one applies to be born in the United States. It just happens. Unfortunately, thanks to the idiots that scream "Go America" into the cameras, i'll have to carry that fat, rich, and greedy stereotype with me while I travel in Central America, just as I did last summer in Costa Rica.
I know, I know- this country was founded on principles of yadda yadda yadda. Jeez if I had a buck for every time I heard that line. Yeah, all that stuff is great. But it doesn't make me proud. I'm pretty damn happy that I happen to live in a country that enforces freedom and liberty, but that doesn't mean that I'll walk around wearing a God Bless America T-shirt. If anything, I'm humbled to be an American.
Maybe it's time to take patriotism out of politics altogether. I'd like to see a leader that holds the attitude of "lets see what we can do to benefit everyone that lives here" rather than "lets see what we can do and what sacrifices we can make to advance the country." That was one of the main problems with communism, by the way. They postponed the good of the people for the sake of the country. But I don't want to get into that. I'm rambling on enough as it is.