If there is one thing that has become desperately American of late it is a deep sense of pride.
Pride in our nation, in our accompliishments, and in our very act of existence.
We are brag about our history.
We boast about our ingenuity.
We rave about our culture.
We rant about the rest of the world and how they hold us back.
We are the great benefactors, the saviors of teh world, holding the godless heathens at bay with our unstoppable war machine.
We are the world’s police force because only we know what is right and what is wrong.
If we are anything, we are a proud people.
There’s the rub of it.
The funny thing though is that we have selective pride.
We can be proud of all the great things we have done throughout our history but then we want to explain away our many, many sins.
Slavery? We can’t dwell on the past.
The KKK? They were just citizens trying to protect their way of life.
Japanese internment? Why It was war!
Truly, I can go on and on with it and there are always excuses.
Like today – impisoning children to punish their parents who PURPORTEDLY came here illegally? Hey, don’t blame us, it’s the past administrations that did that, not us.
That’s like blaming the store owner for having their cash register open so you had no choice but to steal the money.
It doesn’t work that way.
You get your history AND your present, good and bad.
You get both.
If you are going to brag about how amazing the American might was in WWII and how we saved the world then you have to take responsibility for what we have become today, ignorant of relatively recent history and our dangerous dance towards it.
We are so drunk on our blind pride in accomplishments WE have nothing to do with that we pick and choose what it is we are proud about.
We are proud of America, so proud that we have to have the image of the American flag on our shirts, and drinks, and houses, and have to have the flag itself on our trucks but when it comes to cellular parts of the nation, well that’s different. We are proud of America but darn it, cities like Flint are trash and need to be bulldozed.
We are proud of our people and how superior we are…so long as we don’t get too loud or demand too much change to the status quo.
We love our nation so much and are so happy that our ancestors risked everything to come here but the drawbridge is up and we don’t want anymore.
The inn is full.
The numbing irony of that is crushing.
That people like me, whose families risked their lives and safety to come here for a new beginning full of hope would not be allowed in here under this current regime. I mean, my grandfather and grandmother were children when they came here and I have to wonder if their fathers would have had skills that ‘made America great’ as it seems is being tossed around. We have made our country so great, and I don’t even mean that with any sense of irony or disdain, that the rest of the world wants to come here to taste the freedom so many died to secure but…they aren’t good enough.
What we are saying is that hey, thanks for coming but we’re closed.
And some of us are proud of that.
We have forgotten the very things that made this nation one to be proud of in the first place – our immigrants. Our immigrants that brought us their cultures, their histories, their languages, their arts, their foods, and their hands. They literally made this country. And while we don’t like to look back at our dark past the fact is that had we not invaded this country and displaced the native peoples we would never even have an America.
That’s how it is.
We can like it or not.
We can roll our eyes and cluck our tongues and say ‘yeah, but…’ but the thing is that the truth is the truth.
And that is maybe why we are so fearful of these new ‘invaders’, people coming here for the same dreams our ancestors had, because we are afraid that we will be displaced now.
But by god are we proud.
We beat our chests and crow about how great we are…well, WERE, until BLANK happened.
And I laugh.
I laugh at the notion that we were great when people had less rights, had less freedom, and less of a sense of self.
I laugh that people think that the world was better when everything was secret, still existing but hidden away like good, godly people would do.
We are proud until we are faced with how ugly our freedom can be.
And all you have to do is look at a coments section for the news and you see how ugly we can be. Something I know all too well as Flint went from victim of a horrible crime to a city of ingrates with their hands out within weeks.
Oh but how proud we are, of our race, and our color, and our sexuality, and our gods, things that we don’t choose save for our gods. Things we get angry about when others decide they can be proud of those things thsemselves.
We don’t want YOUR god, or YOUR sex, or YOUR race, or YOUR nationality.
We want ours.
Flying our Confederate flags without seeing what that flag represents because we don’t care, we just care that someone else doesn’t want us to have them.
We are proud of our rights and our America and hateful of the America others may see.
And here’s the thing – America is that true love that has a past. They were loved also. They have history too. They were someone else’s everything too. America is a concept as much as it is a place and as such we have no right to put it into a box and suffocate it.
America evolves, even when we don’t want it to.
Our hands are rough on it, pushing it this way or that but the nation ebbs and flows in its own way and history will forget all of us and unless we are careful it will quickly forget America as well. We are one of the greatest nations the world has ever seen and we can do better. We HAVE to do better. We need less money wasted on the war machines. We should be fighting more strategically with less casualties. We should be putting money into education so we can keep up with the rest of the world. We should be able to monitor and and protect our borders without massive and expensive walls and without ripping people away from their families. We should be able to process people so they can become part of the tapestry of this nation and they will not want to be here illegally anymore.
But we don’t want all of that because we are proud of what we are today.
Arms crossed, eyes squinting, and ready to fight.
That is who we are.
We are so proud of our ignorance and rage that we revel in it and reward it.
The problem with pride though is that one day people will be very proud that they had a hand in bringing our country to its knees if we don’t change our ways.
And we will deserve it.
There is a reason pride can be a sin because unearned pride distracts you from the things that we need to do to keep this nation moving forward and evolving in the ways that our founders intended. Taking pride in the deeds of dead men does nothing but distract from the reality that unless we are willing to do the hard work of making this nation legitimately worthy of the dreams of the rest of the world then we need to get to work before it’s too late.