America… my country.

Betsy Ross Flag in the Museum of the Ancient a...

…and crown thy good with brotherhood…

Today is the Fourth of July holiday. It’s a time for many Americans to cook out on the grill, watch fireworks, and eat snow cones. People will sit on patios with coolers of beer, listing to music, and talking about their friends and family while basking in the glory that is this nation. Being the pensive person I am, it’s a time for me to fly to the stars and see the big picture. What have we done? Was it worth it?

It is not inappropriate to remember what was done to attain this chunk of dirt. For better or worse, we pried land away from its original inhabitants. Settlers we not the bread-breaking pilgrims depicted in grade school. There was mayhem and murder on the lips of people hungry for fortune. They were willing to do anything, and convinced themselves of anything, to get it. In the end, it worked.

I cannot say I’m a proponent of reparations. What’s done is done. We can’t bring back the dead, as they are truly the ones that deserved the fair shake. Giving concessions to descendants for generations old atrocities is like throwing a twenty at a prostitute after beating the life out of her. That’s not helpful. This land has been settled for quite some time, and now by people who had nothing to do with it. Ripping property away from others isn’t the solution. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Well, then what? I understand there are others wrought with guilt for something in which they played no part. Their conscience nags them for no better reason than to delight in anxiety. Perhaps there’s a different approach? How about socializing with them? Maybe treating them like something other than a victim? This guilt needs to go. It was out of our control.

I’m open about being hard on my country and its citizens. It’s like the drill sergeant that picks on a certain cadet. They see the potential. They see the possibilities. They also see what it takes to get them to that destination. It’s a hard road, but the goal is appropriate. We have fought so much to establish freedom for the masses. Why aren’t we fighting to make it a more cohesive nation? Stability? Cooperation? Are there too many tag-alongs to prevent us from moving forward? God damn it, America, you’re better than that.

America is no longer an expanding country. At this stage in the game, “expansion” is replaced with “imperialism.” There’s a subtle difference, even if people are willing to ignore it. It seems to me many don’t think about it, and would rather be busy with their own personal agenda. As an established land, we need to focus on what has formed. I know I make it sound like we’ve recently acquired the Pacific states, but think about it. How many times do you hear people using terms like “German-American,” “Italian-American,” “Irish-American,” and so on. Personally, I hear it all the time. It’s like we’re not a sovereign nation.

The reason behind these cutesy little labels is simple. By doing so, we’re able to feed our egos via differentiation and create a special little club for belonging. There are two problems with this. First, no other country considers you their citizen when you are born here, and secondly, you’re romanticizing about a country your ancestors left. How many native born Americans of German descent have the first clue what it means to be German? There are plenty around here in Hooterville, and I can tell you the answer is little if any.

Everything’s a war these days: drugs, terrorism, economic class, race, etc. It’s like putting on another jersey and playing for a team within a team. We’re all on the same team. Some time or another, it has to be acknowledged the guy down the street is your countryman. It has to. Otherwise, our tacit in-fighting will hold us back from economic and social progress. We will continue to make minute distinctions between one another and not relate in a larger sense. “I’m not going to help him. He’s one of them.”

We are all Americans. Let’s celebrate as one.

…and remember, Ira Hamilton Hayes of the Pima Tribe was one of the six in this statue.

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8 thoughts on “America… my country.

  1. I think you’ve put your finger on the main problem of society as a whole.

  2. It’s a lot easier to split us up into different teams and have us hate each other than it is to have us all one one team and work together. Together we stand; divided we fall. So the powers that be (in any situation) want us to be divided, because if we all work together, we’re unstoppable. And an unstoppable team with a common goal is scary, scary stuff. A random group of people infighting? Easily conquered. Not scary at all.

    But we like to fight, and we like to hate. It’s a thing we’ve gotten very good at, over the years. I just think we’re fighting and hating the wrong people and the wrong things, most of the time.

    • From my perspective, to hate anything is very human. It’s easy to do, and doesn’t require much in the way of logical support. We’ve gone through this cycle of intense hate, and need to mature. In being more of an adult, we’re not suppressing anger but finding better ways to deal with conflict. I think it would help curb the need to fight and protest every issue, and make living with each other a little more civil.

  3. I just shared this on Facebook. I feel the exact same way, Corvidae. I look at what we are now and I think, “We could be so much better than this. We ARE so much better than this.”

  4. People maintain power through division. Since the early days of this country, it has been so. My fiction writing requires a lot of research into the first few decades of our country’s existence, and it reinforces for me how dysfunctional we have always, always been. All I can do is be the best kind of American and hope it rubs off on a few people. At the very least, I hope I set a decent example in my writing, because a lot of non-Americans read it.

    I think Roger is right, too. This is a human problem, not just an American one. I am grateful for my involvement in Rotary, because I have been able to do things that have reinforced the truth that people are the same. Once we put away the stereotypes, we all need the same things, dream the same dreams, feel the same hurts.

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