Are you a patriot?

Happy Fourth of July, American and American-adjacent/resident friends! Happy Monday, everyone else!

Independence Day is a weird holiday for me. For the longest time, I associated it with hot car trips up the Pennsylvania, where we celebrated both it and my grandmother’s birthday.

She passed away ten years ago this past spring, so usually I consider the Fourth as a day to think about her. She was a fascinating, complex, sometimes difficult woman.

For a lot of other people, though, Independence Day is a huge holiday. The terrible traffic and sporadic pops of fireworks and gunfire around where I live proves it. The flag is…everywhere. I mean, everywhere. You can even walk on it: American flag flip-flops.

It should not surprise you all to know that I have a complicated relationship with my country. Coming of age in a highly nationalistic period can do that to you. It’s hard for me not to associate the word “patriot” with a kind of hyper-aggressive, wildly sensitive type who will hear no criticism of the Fatherland.

For some, to critique America is to fail in your patriotism.

That’s such a bizarre stance to take. When we think about our friends and our family, we think: “yes, I will stand by you.” But we also think: “If you start doing crazy, self-destructive shit, I’m going to tell you.” And, perhaps most importantly, “I understand you’re not perfect.”

It should be possible to be a patriot and to want the United States to be better. I don’t mean stronger, because our military is…well, impressive to say the least. I mean better. More compassionate. More accountable. Truer to the ideals we espouse but often do not embody.

To be a patriot is to love one’s country. But I think we have to love it honestly. And to love our neighbors and fellow citizens most of all, however different from us they might be. That’s hard sometimes–whoever you are, there’s someone you don’t like–but patriotism probably shouldn’t be easy. It should be complicated.

Are you a patriot?


4 thoughts on “Are you a patriot?

  1. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I find excessive displays of the flag to be tacky and hollow. In fact, I feel as though anyone who feels the need to engage in unabashed outward displays of “patriotism” is a phony. Of course, it could just be me.

    America needs to check its privilege for real. Sure, I’m proud to be an American, but I absolutely hate that song – because it’s tacky. I love this country, and freedom, and all that jazz… but I know that there’s a lot we do horribly wrong and am not so patriotic that I wouldn’t consider moving elsewhere – and I’m not so patriotic that I’d shove ‘Murican “freedom” and capitalism down anyone’s throat – because it’s tacky.

    Sorry about this unintelligible rant…

    • No, I think that makes a lot of sense. I like our flag but I prefer it…as a flag. It’s just kind of everywhere at certain events. And yeah, a lot of patriotism feels like posturing to me, too. What’s wrong with quietly working toward making our communities the best they can be? Isn’t that a higher expression of patriotism that making a lot of noise?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s