Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I'm Pro-America

I don't tend to delve into politics unless I know that I can have a thoughtful discussion with a person because I don't like arguing ideological differences to no avail. It's surely through having friends with such strong and varied opinions that I've gotten this way. I just don't like butting heads with no purpose, but as the title may suggest something has gotten under my skin.

I'm sure you've all seen more than your fair share of "pro-America" and "the real Virginia" clips.

It's really offensive to me that the concept of being a "real" American is being cast along party lines. Certainly we're in the final part of what has been devilishly long and ugly campaign, but I don't really find defense in that. One of the things that makes the United States great is that we are all entitled to our different opinions and the ability to voice them. What makes us Americans is how different we all are. The great melting pot. A place where brave men and women struck out to create something that they could call their own.

I am incredibly proud to be an American, a place where with hard work and marginal luck anyone can make something of themselves. I am proud that there is still farm land and we still grow food. I am proud that we have some of the most impressive cities filled with some of the most diverse people in the world. I am proud that we still have a culture that is connected to our roots when you travel to different regions. I think it's tremendous that you feel the difference in culture in New England verses the South verses the South-West verses the Mid-West verses the Plains verses the West coast and that we are still one country.

That is not to say that I am unequivocally proud of all actions that we have and will take as a country. It's like a mother saying to their child, I don't always like you, but I'll always love you. But I am grateful I live in a country where I can say whether or not I agree with something. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and the ability to share them.

Entitled. And I hate entitlement. There is nothing that upsets me in a person's actions more than a sense of entitlement. But I think that we're all entitled to free speech, I think every child is entitled a fair chance to grow and have options. While I'm defending the first amendment so vehemently I also support the second amendment. (obviously there are public safety concerns that come into concern with both the first and second amendments, and my opinions are in fact nuanced)

Here's the thing though, with this entitlement comes civic duty. This is not socialism it is living in a community, and we live in a community that is bigger than those who we know. It is bigger than the people in our church, the people in our town, and the people in our state. We should do good for people on a individual level, but as a country we are responsible as well. We are responsible to ourselves and responsible to the world, because like it or not we are part of a global community. So yes, it is my civic duty to pay my taxes, and I might even agree with the scoffed at line that it is patriotic to pay taxes. And even though I feel the nearly 25% of my pay check that gets taken each month between taxes, medicare and social security(only to be taxed again when I buy stuff) it is literally the price to pay to live in a safe and secure country. This is not new, in the Bible it commands that when a farmer harvests his wheat that he not reap to the edges of the field and not glean the fallen seeds. That which we have is not only our own.

I want to live in a country where we have programs to help the needy. I want streets to be paved, for there to be policemen and firemen. I want the government to be able to help in disasters here at home and abroad. I want to live in a country that has the ability to help in Darfur, and Myanmar and works with other countries to do so.

I am proud of our troops. I don't always agree with the missions that they've been sent on, or even in the way that they're conducted, but I am grateful that there are men and women who go. It is hard to separate the players from the game, but we must. And the players are for the most part good men and women. Just as this nation is for the most part good men and women.

Good men and women who disagree.

So just because I'm a liberal Jew who lives in a big city who absolutely loves brie and red wine does not mean I don't love this country. It also doesn't mean that I don't love beer and BBQ.

I really just wish that politics were not so incredibly divisive right now and didn't pander to people's fear.


Neen said...

This is one of the strongest, most coherent posts I've seen on a personal blog. You capture the nuance much better than most of the "Pro-America" backlashes that I've seen. I only wish there was a forum where you could send this post where it would be more widely read.

Alex said...

I agree with Neeners. This is very well written, and you make what I have long thought is at the heart of national pride: that the nation is indeed made of people, and it is putting trust and hope in those people that constitutes said pride.

Every now and again that trust is broken and bad decisions are made that effect every one of us, but the basis of good people remains true, despite disagreement or internal conflict.

As for the last line of your post: The problem is that fear works, and is among the most primal of our emotions. If there were a better way to get people riled up about democracy I'm sure it would get used, but I think that this is a case of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." I don't think it's going to go away any time soon.

Perhaps an alternative explanation would be "If the campaigns were any more nuanced than party lines, the election process itself would take 4 years."

just some ideas.

Sarah said...

Emily I'm proud of you! Good luck with applications, let me know if you need anything. I tried calling you the other day... but I seem to have the wrong number I think. :-(

Love you lots!

Sarah said...

Things had gotten so bitter, angry, and coercive I simply turned off all media except blogs, face book, personal conversation and of course the Onion. Well said Emily!