I am an American by birth. I find it difficult to feel “proud” of that, not mainly because of things my country has done to others like (and unlike) me, but because my definition of pride has nothing to do with belonging, it has to do with personal or collective accomplishments. Being American is neither an accomplishment, nor anything I have done, it just is. It is akin to racial pride, which I also do not understand. How can someone be proud of accomplishments achieved by a social construct? Further, how can someone be fully proud of something accomplished by people whose legacy is, on a daily basis, ignored, lessened or diminished, thrown into the “memory hole” and buried. We don’t know the half of what our forebears suffered through, this is especially true of racial minorities and most especially African Americans.
When I take a moment and think, really think hard about the legacy of racial bigotry, coerced divisions by race of poor from poor by the elites, the various ethnic minorities who have entered this country and been indentured, the subsequent divisive tactics used to keep everyone from truly seeking level footing and the legacy we are currently living, everything makes frustratingly clear sense.
I often deal with people who have no such perspective; they have no experience with the deep damage done by centuries of desperate clamoring for entrance into the dream of America. They do not have a sense of history, born in the mark they wear, and lived through every day. The younger generation (I am in my mid 40’s and remember the 70’s and its post racial/ethnic/orientation tumult well) seem to be in a state of stasis between feeling unusually entitled especially at either extreme end of the socioeconomic spectrum and being completely defeated by the deck clearly stacked against them when really they are as intertwined as power and privilege.
As an American, I find it difficult to be truly “proud” of this.
What I am is hopeful, even as time goes on and my hope is whittled away by our self-defeating responses to divisive rhetoric, I am still (marginally) hopeful.
I am hopeful that this is another transitory period in history, another readjustment, or maybe the storm before the fulfillment of the promise of this pluralistic dream we call America. I am hopeful because as Vaclav Havel said: “Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”
This Blog is about many things, anger, righteous indignation, love, work, life, politics, God (or lack thereof) science over superstition, and mostly hope.