I love the United States. I really do. It’s easy, in an election season, to get disillusioned and disgusted by the pandering of politicians and make a grumbling threat that “I’m moving to Canada!”
(I actually really love Montreal and I’d totally live there.)
But at the root of it all, I love my country. I love the diversity of culture and skin that fills the identity of “American.” I love the vast national parks and farmlands and the acres upon acres upon acres of rural countryside. I love the pioneering psyche that still infects our culture.
I think as United Statesians we can’t really understand the deep, core heritage that citizens of more ancient nations feel for their country. It’s an amor patriae that we as a young nation – a hodgepodge nation – can’t have yet.
But we each have our own patriotism, a collection of meaning that swells in our hearts when we think of America. The differences in our collections are what cause so much political dissent – but I’d argue they’re also what makes our country unique.
Patriotism to me is the Independence Day parade in my hometown growing up. It’s rallying early in the morning at a parking lot with all the other floats, my parents putting us on their party float. Ears stuffed with vaselined cotton balls to drown out the shrill of the steam engines in the parades, throwing candy to people gathered on the sidewalks downtown, and watching with awe the cowgirls and cowboys that rode their horses at the back of the parade (no one wants to step on horse poo, you know).
Followed by a big cookout with all our friends at my grandparents’, whose mountain-perched house provided the perfect hillside viewing of the fireworks – from the county fairgrounds all the way to Lenox Square in downtown Atlanta.
One year for Memorial Day my dad got fighter jets to fly low over the parade. My sister and I rode in the back of Humvee, and all the brick buildings shuddered as the planes roared overhead. The Army also fills my meaning-collection of Patriotism. Attending solemn ceremonies, the swish of the colors swooping across the hushed grounds. Segeants shouting commands, unintelligble to me, that pierce the silence like shots. How do they all move so perfectly in unison?
I was mailing some things the other day and had to use a profuse amount of stamps. The generic American flag stamps say USA Forever on them.
Not really, I thought. I always default to overly logical when presented with sweeping sentimental statements. The USA isn’t going to last forever.
No nation is perfect, and no nation is permanent. To think otherwise is…fanatical.
I can shrug off election hysteria, because the USA is not my homeland, and neither is the president – or any political figure – its savior. There will never be a good enough leader of the USA to make it perfect, or make it last forever.
Nothing can do that. And nothing should.
I believe this world is very much temporary, and that a perfect world awaits – one where there isn’t any more pain, no more brokenness or sorrow, and no injustice. The world as it was meant to be.
And I believe my role – our role – in this imperfect world (and this imperfect nation) is to bring relief and joy and justice where we can. To fight for it, when necessary; to advance a little bit of ground against evil; to awaken hope for that world that we know, deep down in the depths of our hearts, is how it should be.