pride – the state or feeling of being proud

proud – feeling pleasure or satisfaction over something regarded as highly honorable or creditable to oneself (often followed by of, an infinitive, or a clause)

Pride is a feeling I’ve often not understood. To me, having pride in something means you’ve contributed to its current state. For instance, I’m proud of my children. I’m proud of who they’ve become and who they’ve become is a reflection of the work I’ve put into raising them.

When I was in high school (way, way, waaaaay back in the day), we often had school pride days or school pride rallies. Even at that young age, I was confused by these events. Why should I have pride in a school when all I’ve done is attend it? I had no effect whatsoever on anything (good or bad) that happened at that school. The only reason I went to that school was that my home was located in that district. I didn’t choose that school. Why should I have felt pride in that school?

As I grew older I found others’ feelings of pride even more absurd. People were proud of “their” teams. Or the company they worked for. Or the country they live in.

And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free…

Lee Greenwood

American pride has always puzzled me. For multiple reasons. First and foremost is that most of us did not choose to live in this nation. We were simply born here. I feel neither pride nor an obligation to slap an American flag on anything I own just because, by pure happenstance, I was born in this nation.

The majority of us have not contributed to the current state this country is in. Elected and appointed officials shape our policies and write our laws. We the people do not. Our elected officials have always dictated our actions. Elected officials decide when we go to war. When to topple foreign governments. When to bring “freedom” to a “marginalized” populace. Despite that many Americans still mount flags on their homes or vehicles as if they have done something worthy of feeling American pride.

Putting aside the fact that most Americans have had no hand in the way this country treats its own citizens or its global neighbors, exactly what has our country done for which we should feel pride? This nation sits on a foundation of atrocities. We stole the very land of this nation from the people who inhabited it. This nation’s infrastructure was built by enslaved people. Women were not allowed to vote until 1920. Black people weren’t granted the right to vote until after the Civil War, but suppression measures were put in place to prevent them from voting that weren’t repealed until 1964. Native Americans couldn’t vote until 1924. We fought a civil war because half of the nation believed it was their right to own other human beings, and to this day people still fly that odious flag.

Furthermore, the capitalist nature of this country has made life challenging for its less affluent citizens, requiring the formation of labor unions just to get basic things like a living wage and safe work environments. Corporations still have more influence than citizens in this country because they can just make “donations” to a politician to sway their votes.

I could go on and on about this nation’s shortcomings, but I don’t have all day. Just a casual perusal of the news, however, is enough to question the sanity of anyone flying an American flag proudly these days. Women’s reproductive rights are under attack. Citizens are gunning each other down in our city streets. Children are endangering themselves just going to school. Black people are being mass murdered by white supremacists who feel like they need to protect the white race. From what, I don’t know.

Meanwhile, one political party has adopted a mentally challenged narcissist as its de facto leader and has spent the last two years trying to subvert our democracy. Or rather, what’s left of our democracy. That party’s followers are so indoctrinated they dismiss any evidence to the contrary as doctored. They still show up to these rallies and cheer him on as if he’s some kind of god.

Sad, but true.

Today is the 4th of July. Our Independence Day. The day we told England to fuck all the way off. The day we declared all men were created equal (although the fine print excluding pretty much everyone but white men has yet to be discovered by historians). The day we claimed life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is the right of every American citizen (ya know, as long as they’re white). The day we claimed it is the duty of the people to throw off a despotic government (unless that government is led by an old tyrant with strange, orange-tinted skin, who grabs women by the pussy and America by the flag without consent).

Had this nation actually followed the ideals of its founders I think I could probably understand someone who flies an American flag proudly. Instead, I immediately question the intelligence of someone who blindly supports this nation. Or worse, sees this nation for what it is and supports it anyhow.