I’m glad to be back in America. I appreciate aspects of America like never before- especially the personal liberties. However, have you ever gone on vacation and come back home to something you lived with for years that sticks out majorly when you return? That’s what repatriation has felt like. I’m seeing America with fresh eyes and a new perspective, and in some ways, I’m grossed out.
Notes on Patriotism
In England, vigorous support for one’s country was highjacked by intoxicated football fans who plastered St. George cross flags at games. In conversations with the English, many feel that displaying national symbols highlights them as racist. That is problematic and sad. England lacks a cultural identity which the Brexit move partially brought to light. People want a sense of unity back that has been dissolved by open borders and accommodating other cultures who did not offer reciprocity in return.
Brexit will not evoke patriotism. The English would do better to invite the cultures who now live there to express a new unified spirit of collectiveness and integration, redefining Britain, rather than trying to return to a less multi-cultural land. As long as it is an “us vs. them” kind of spirit, the country’s potential will be limited. Visit London and you can go down streets that are 100% populated by occupants of one country or another. These people are very proud of their heritage and celebrate openly- flying flags, hosting cultural events, dressing and eating in line with their home country’s traditions. Meanwhile, the English are quietly and politely proud, as being “English” is becoming less and less definable.
Now back in the USA, I was shocked by just how much national paraphernalia and symbolism there is by contrast. I would guess that 90% of my friends own an American themed outfit- particularly for this time of year. (I always did!) I don’t know any other place where that would be true. America loves showing that they love America. For Americans, it feels like a civic duty to display American flags- they are literally plastered everywhere. I checked out an entire CD of kids’ songs celebrating our heritage. We teach our children to be proud of America. Children as young as five pledge allegiance to the flag everyday at school. That never struck me as odd until I moved back. But I think that’s intense and very weird. Everyday? Really?
(Please note the fans to make the flags wave in the store)
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness
When I look at the US, I can’t imagine donning those statue of liberty emoticon earrings right now. We have too much work to do, folks. In the pledge I recited everyday as a child, America is “One nation, indivisible, under God, with liberty and justice for all.”
“One Nation: with Liberty and Justice for All”
The headlines don’t reflect those values. I’m not seeing much submission to God or justice for all. I’m seeing division between political parties, neighbours, and racial tension. The white part of red, white and blue still creates first and second class citizens. We actually have a movement called, “Black Lives Matter.” It still has to be said. Teenagers are killing themselves because of bullying, family systems aren’t broken because without commitment, they were fractured from the start. And justice for all? People with money, notoriety and privilege are disproportionately protected under the law. We are seeing this play out over and over. I am embarrassed and dissatisfied.
I am passionate about America’s values. It just seems we aren’t collectively holding up to those ideals. Instead, we compare American strengths with the weaknesses of other countries and celebrate that victory. I don’t want to win just by comparison to other countries. I want to resemble the ideals in the pledge and defining documents.
As a country, we continually move away from a standard of morality that defines right and wrong, and then are surprised by the results- violence, infidelity, immorality, and deteriorating mental health. The beauty of a country that touts to be “under God” is that religion has the unique ability to create a sense of external accountability, establish a moral code, and provide a platform of culture that can be shared in community. So religious persons, live up to your convictions, or drop the label of your faith. Americans, seek justice, opportunity, and freedom for all or consider taking down the flag if that doesn’t describe you. Let’s continually create a culture worthy of celebrating.
I do believe the United States of America is the greatest country in the world, but I believe it is still a far cry from where we think we are. We have hurting neighbours.
Let’s rectify that.
I’ll start with me.
Ironically, I’m off to a firework show to celebrate independence from England. This puts me in a weird spot.
This sign- ((face palm!))