Patriotism or Lack Thereof

Photo by Kalea Morgan on Unsplash

I’ve never thought of myself as patriotic. I do have a certain affection for the United States, but only because it’s my home. I’ve long recognized that there are dozens of other countries I could have been born in where my life would be about the same or better. The whole “greatest country in the world” thing is, and always has been, nonsense. Not just for the US, any country making that claim is absurd. This weekend, it seems, after the Supreme Court’s disastrous week, a bunch of other people may be coming around to my way of thinking.

For the first time I can remember, I’m seeing calls from people saying, “don’t celebrate the Fourth of July.” Well, good for me, I literally don’t remember the last time I celebrated the Fourth, if I ever really have. I can’t remember any family barbecues when I was young. I’ve never hosted one as an adult. July 4th has always been a time of making fun of people for playing a Russian celebration of defeating Napolean, who was our ally, because it has cannon noises in it. It’s been a time of getting annoyed at all the illegal fireworks displays that happen. It’s been a time of terrorized pets and making excuses to avoid other people’s celebrations.

Except, what does not celebrating the Fourth mean? I’m my case, I think it means I prefer quiet, I hate the summer, I have a strong sense of irony, I like animals, and I keep to myself. That’s about it. It isn’t a statement, and I don’t even see how it could be. If you’re like me, it just means keeping yourself comfortable. If you’re not like me, it probably means depriving yourself of some enjoyable experiences. In other words, it doesn’t mean or do anything.

It seems that the many people saying they won’t celebrate the Fourth are new to this lack of patriotism. As someone with experience, I’m duty bound to try to help the newbies. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. As stated above, there’s a difference between feeling patriotic and caring about your home.
  2. Celebrating or not celebrating a holiday is a giant whatever. Do whatever feels right to you.
  3. Even non-patriots can and should try to make things better. That means voting, protesting, sharing your thoughts and feelings, writing to your elected officials, and all that stuff. Just because we’re not patriotic doesn’t mean we can’t work towards a country we can be patriotic about.
  4. Don’t judge anyone based on their levels of patriotism. This one goes for patriots, too.
  5. Lack of patriotism is freeing. Use that freedom. You are not beholden to any institutions or ways of doing things. Get creative when making change. We don’t need to keep anything that isn’t good.
  6. At the same time, it’s OK to like some things about a country without feeling patriotic.
  7. A positive thing about losing your patriotism is it’s a cure for exceptionalism. People are people wherever they live or come from. It should create a sense of solidarity.
  8. Avoid cynicism. Change is better when it comes from a place of positivity.
  9. There are lots of us. Seek support when you can.
  10. Live your life. It doesn’t matter how bad things get, obsessing will not help.

This week was a disaster any way you look at it. But maybe there’s an upside. Maybe the Supreme Court has upset enough people to motivate them. That puts all kinds of possibilities on the table. We may see adequate numbers voting in each and every election. We might get loud protests. We might get real civil disobedience. We might end up with a general strike. Maybe a Constitutional Convention. All of the above would be my unpatriotic dream come true.

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