I am not a patriotic American. Which I have long believed makes me a good citizen.
At some point in the last decade or two, patriotism became something unseemly. It got tied in, distinctly, with nationalism and culture. That shift came from a place of fear: America was something fragile, something which must be preserved.
This is horseshit. Utterly. It is wrong-headed thinking, backwards, and misunderstands the basic ideals of America's formation.
America is an idea, a theory, that once given form gave rise to a flawed-but-great society. America is not a culture or identity or flag or history book or show of force or even benevolence. America is a belief and concept: that all men are created equal and free, and that together we can create a society and system of government that respects that fundamental idea.
Ok, so it's a work in progress--and there is a long, long way to go. But despite all the shit flying around in the news, the awfulness in the world, and our own failures towards our fellow humans, it is undeniable that we have made progress.
So what the hell happened? How did we end up back in the muck, deeply splintered and covered in one another's excrement?
America demands responsibility from its citizenry. It is a work in progress that DEMANDS the work be done. To view America as something complete and distinct, as derivative or representative of something else, is a mistake that will result in a complacency which can and will be hijacked.
The idea of America requires an informed and thinking populace. And this is one place we have failed. Why? Because we believed it was done, fixed, complete; that we'd built something which needed to be maintained, rather than actively regenerated.
America requires responsibility.
If you believe the guardrails are in place, that out choices can't take us too far astray from the center line, then you aren't looking.
America requires understanding.
You are not important. Neither am I. America requires understanding, accepting, embracing this simple and wonderful fact. It requires some sacrifice, and a willingness, an eagerness, to put a greater cause ahead of personal security.
I am not a patriotic American, but I believe deeply in America the idea. And watching the events of the past two years unfold has helped renew that belief in an exuberant way. As the current government exhibits every UN-American ideal I can think of (they are small-minded, petty, greedy, vindictive, fearful, selfish and dishonest), it also highlights the goodness which has been misunderstood.
America is an idea.
You're not standing on it. It's got nothing to do with your passport. The flag is just a flag, a symbol not a sign.
The United States of America is deep in the shit right now, and I'm not willing to offer a prognosis. But the ideals behind it aren't the sort of thing which can be tarnished. They remain fundamental, inviolable, true, and central to the human condition.
Vote the bastards out. We can be so much better than this.