Thursday, July 4, 2013

Being Patriotic

July 4th, the official day that America declared that they were independent from Britain. Our day as American citizens to show that we're proud of our country and our government and our freedoms. We celebrate with hot dogs and hamburgers and fireworks. Oh, and apple pie, who could forget the apple pie?

Actually, until recently I counted myself in the "I don't like pie" group. For some reason (maybe some friends who are AMAZING cooks and bakers) my taste buds seem to have expanded and I now like pie. However, this is not a post about my journey of finding out that I like pie! It's about my personal patiotism and how I feel about my country.

Since I'm a citizen of America, I get to say what I want about how my government runs my country. A group of remarkable men set down in writing a list of rights that every man is entitled to in this country. Unfortunately they are all dead, so we can't ask them what they think of the country today.

Last week I took a vacation to Colorado Springs. I got to hike around the mountains a little bit, and wondered at how those pioneers made it through the Rockies and all the way to Oregon in their covered wagons. Granted, they were a lot hardier than we are today. Those mountains are beautiful and breathtaking. I could see why people are proud to be apart of this country just because of the land. Unfortunately, some days, I think that's all I'm proud of about this country.

It's no secret that our schools are failing when compared to the rest of the world. I'm continually disgusted and flustered when my little sister talks to me about what she's learning in school. I've read a few of the books she was required to read throughout the year, most of them are good, but there should be more of them. There is so much "busywork" that I'm not sure what purpose is served by those packets other than to take up time and drill test taking skills into my little sister, who forgets the information she learned as soon as she's done with the test. Her brain space needs to be filled with new information to spit back out and forget once another test is done. I'm worried for the future generations of school children and what exactly they are going to come out of school knowing about their country and their history.

Then there is the government. I don't follow politics enough to fully understand what's going on all the time, but when I do start reading about what's going on, I start to fear for what might happen. I respect that running a country this large is difficult and I would not want that responsibility. Each president inherits the problems and flukes that the previous president had to deal with, and in some instances, created. Then there are the political parties, so obsessed with their own agendas that they would rather block the other party from making a difference than work with that party for the good of the people. I'm not referring to any party in particular, just making an observation about the parties in general. There are some great things that people are trying to accomplish through our government. They are imperfect, but at least there is groundwork being laid down. Then again, there are many rights that people try and take away though pushing agendas and egos. 

But then there are the people that I meet along the way who just ordinary people. They're living their life just as I'm living mine. Making it day to day, reacting to what's going on in the capitol. These are hard working people. These are kind and generous people who have their hopes and dreams and are entitled to those dreams.
Unfortunately, America seems to promise fame, fortune, and power to anyone who wants these qualities. Not everyone will be famous, rich, or a CEO who wields great power over a company. I don't really care about being famous, rich, or a CEO. Not every little child will get to be president. Not every child will go to the moon. I might not make it on the stage.
My "American Dream" is more about being stable. I don't want my name plastered across magazines for what I'm wearing on any particular day, or what drama is going on. The idea of not having any privacy, like many celebrities, it appalling. If my friends know who I am, and I'm able to have a decent network among my coworkers and professional world, that could get me along just fine. I don't need a million dollars (even though that would take care of my college tuition), but being able to pay my bills and keep above debt would be nice. I don't need to influence thousands of employees, but being able to mentor a young woman or two as an "older sister" has brought me joy.

America has a history just like any other country. We've had our very proud moments of success and being able to lend a hand. We've had our very bad days of surrender and meddling where we shouldn't. We've brought people to our land, and we've tried to annihilate other people as well. So we're a mixed bag, which country isn't? We've got a lot of problems to fix, which country doesn't?

Back to that pioneer thing. Some days I have trouble feeling patriotic because of all of the troubles that I see going on in America. However, looking out over the mountains, I could see why people are proud of this country. Driving in the car on the way back, I saw towns and farms pass by and thought about my country. It is a beautiful and varied landscape to be sure. I can see why people would be wiling to fight for this land if that's where they felt they had a home and a life. I'm grateful that I live somewhere where I can write these opinions without fear of retaliation (other than from internet trolls and the like). I get to live where my gender does not (directly) limit me in my vocational choices and quality of life. I get to practice the religion of my choosing without worrying about being jailed or killed for what I believe.

So today I'm wearing blue, my hair is already red, and I'll figure something out for the white. I'm proud of the progress my country has made over time, and pray that it will continue to progress for the greater good of the people who inhabit this vast nation. I'll go dancing and celebrate our founding fathers writing the Declaration of Independence. I will remember the women and men who have died forming this country, and the members of the armed forces who have defended us.

Today, I'm all right with being American. It's not a bad thing to be.