It seems patriotism has become passé. If you are an intelligent, thinking, sophisticated individual, then you must embrace the ideals of those who believe America is a bully and a beast that must be subdued. If you are still holding on to the view that America is good, then you must be simple minded and naïve. Well, call me simple minded because I still believe the democratic experiment that is America is a pretty darn good bet, and call me naïve because I think that the people that form the fabric of this nation make it beautiful.
I am not armed with statistics – so it would be really easy to prove me wrong (or right) depending on your ideology and where you choose to gather your information (facts to support your given view can always be found). I am simply an American living my day-to-day life. I don’t feel I need studies or statistics to tell me what I am experiencing. I recognize that my experience may be different from yours – but I suspect all of us put together could tell a better story about this nation than any pundit or reporter on the evening news. What do they know about me? Or you?
The folks I share this country with care about one another and care about others living on the other side of the planet. I know people from the right and the left who sincerely desire to find helpful solutions to the challenges we face. These are people who share my office space, my grocery store and my dinner table – not the ones pontificating in Washington, they are not the real Americans. Real Americans are plucky and tenacious. We are the people who stand up for what is right and unite behind a common cause that will serve the greater good.
I like celebrating Independence Day. I am a patriotic fool. I cry during the National Anthem and Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.” My heart wants to burst when the montage of pull quotes from the great American speeches are broadcast during a particularly majestic segment of the firework display. I am in awe of the vision and bravery of those who have come before me to create this land I call home. I worry that somewhere along the way we’ve lost that vision and I desperately hope there are enough foolishly naïve folks like me who can keep it alive and transform that same vision of freedom and independence into something meaningful for the 21st century.
We are Americans. We are revolutionaries. We are the “Sons and Daughters of Liberty.” Why is it so popular to wallow in what we’ve done wrong as a nation and why is it so frowned-upon to celebrate what we have done right? I think it is possible to do both equally well. To take responsibility for mistakes, poor judgment, and wrongs done and at the same time shout from the Rockies to the Appalachians that we are a nation by the people for the people and by golly we are doing our best to get that right!
Things are certainly different in our world than they were in 1776. The earth seems smaller and more fragile. We know so much more about this planet and the nations and people with whom we share it but I still believe America is a force for good in this world. We are not perfect, and I cannot agree with all the choices our leadership has made over the years, but we have the moxie to blaze the path to liberty the way we always have. Frankly though, I think it’s going to take “we the people” and not “them the pundits.”
So on Monday, I challenge you to turn off the news and turn to your fellow country men and women. What do you see in their eyes? Could it be hope? Tenacity? Pluck? Courage? Goodness? Perhaps it’s not so bad after all. Perhaps you’d be willing to join this patriotic fool in a good old fashion gush fest over what is still a great nation?