By Chris Leavenworth
A great deal of confusion plagues the collective understanding of what it means to be truly patriotic in the United States these days. Subservience and misplaced pride are two primary factors attached to one thread of patriotism running rampant among those who think America is God’s personal gift to those legally born on her soil.
I’ve been told, in so many ways, that unwavering pride for one’s country, and standing strong without criticism of elected leaders, is how a patriot exercises loyalty for their country. This has been made known to me only recently by vocal Trump supporters who insist on having never criticized Obama during his time in office.
The recent uprising of alt-right racists marching through the streets of various cities, most notably Charlottesville, is a shining example of how dangerous misguided patriotism can be. These dimwitted dorks actually believe their actions are legitimate contributions of extreme patriotism.
The love of one’s country is often distorted whenever personal pride attaches itself. Pride for any inborn advantage of one’s own identity generally results in some degree of bigotry, fascism or nationalism.
People who are simply born in the United States are without any authentic reason to derive pride from it, yet that truth, like so many, is not palatable to the majority. People love participation trophies, and if someone is given praise for something they had no part in, they’ll generally accept it without correcting anyone.
Being born somewhere takes absolutely zero effort, and obtaining self-esteem from it is just a cheap way to feel better about benefiting from the hard work and ingenuity of those who came before.
To be legitimately proud of something requires a person to take part in its development or success. Not just to be an entitled beneficiary of it.
Pride for merely being born somewhere, marked by a feeling of superiority over other countries, is nationalism. It’s the perverted version of patriotism. Staunch pride for something unearned, and insisting others are not worthy or do not qualify for it, is not only irrational…it is disgusting.
Real patriotism, or at least the kind that I’m willing to endorse, is simply love for one’s country, primarily involving gratitude, humility and a desire to make the country better for everyone. In the United States, it’s knowing that you are fortunate to have been born into a nation that was founded on the ideals of promoting individual liberties that allow anyone to criticize government without legal consequence. Honest patriotism recognizes there are many other countries where citizens are not as fortunate, yet acknowledges there are still many things that can be greatly improved here.
Someone truly passionate about his or her country will advocate for laws that protect and conserve natural resources to keep the environment beautiful and drinking water safe for everyone. They’ll want their tax dollars to pay for accessible and affordable healthcare for all, better education, and, ultimately, a better quality of life for everyone.
A good patriot sees the needs of others outside his or her immediate peripheral, understanding that we are all better off when we’re all looking out for each other.