Wednesday, July 05, 2006

All-American Fourth

Clad in jeans and a white tee; eating a burger (albeit the non-traditional Boca burger), baked beans, and apple pie; discussing the summer blockbuster we'd taken in (Superman Returns is worth the 7 bucks), I realized that M and I had a pretty traditional 4th of July. We were the All-American couple yesterday. It got me thinking about how I feel about being an American. Am I proud to be an American? Yesterday was the definetely the day I was supposed to be as we showed off our superiority as a nation in creating fireworks displays and staging hot dog eating contests. There are other reasons that I've questioned my pride as an American citizen lately. The World Cup, for instance. Watching the faces of German spectators yesterday was like watching the faces of people whose dogs had been collectively hit by cars. When the Americans went out, it was more like, "well, what did you expect?" There will be no American in the Wimbledon finals this year, and it's not that big of a conversation topic.

America is a unique country in that we rarely, if ever, show a unified pride in ourselves or in anything. We are, as a general rule, too self-involved and self-important to care about the greater good. Don't get me wrong, Americans will rally behind a cause, but we've got an expiration date for caring about others. The whole country proudly flew flags and gave blood in the fall of 2001, we sent money and aid to tsunami victims in 2004, we sent millions and all of the trailers and lumber and supplies we could muster to the Gulf coast last summer. Where do we stand on most of those issues now? Ann Coulter berating widows of 9/11 and people wondering where the money went. A nation playing a game of "he did it, she did it" in the wake of Katrina's disaster. Here's an idea- maybe it's a little of everyone's fault. Let's get over the blame game and learn from our mistakes. What a concept.

The war in Iraq is a whole different reason to question my American pride. I won't even go there. I can't understand why so many people are dying. Why? Why? Why? And why, if it was so urgent to quash Sadaam's rule in the wake of "we think he has WMD'", have we not gone after North Korea when we know that they have them? Maybe we don't hold a grudge against them like we did Iraq.

I'm not saying that I'm not proud to be an American, I'm just saying it's not a black and white issue. M pointed out as we talked about this yesterday that he thinks he is proud to be an American and even if he's not, he's lucky to be one. Now there's a true statement. Wouldn't it be great if all Americans collectively realized that one simple truth? As Americans we have more than anyone else, and I'm talking about tangibles and intangibles here. Yes, we've got our SUVs and IPODs, and we have schools and hospitals and roads, but we also have opportunities and freedoms that people in "lesser" nations could only dream of.

I'm still not sure that's something to be proud of, though.

On a lighter note, though (as I hate to be a negative Nancy), I did learn yesterday that my husband is taller than Superman, and I am proud of that. :)

7 comments:

feather nester said...

This doesn't account for the selfishness, short-sightedness, or degenerate ungratefulness, but I do have a positive spin for the lack of rallying behind a unified cause: I present the diversity defense for your judicial consideration. Some people got behind the World Cup. Some people got behind Wimbledon. Some people got behond America's Got Talent. To each his own. And I really think it's as simple as that. I don't think it's a lack of team spirit; maybe it's an inability to focus, but I'd rather see people interested in all sorts of different things than everyone conforming to the one nationally accepted pastime. I'm not one of those made nervous by Germany's recent display of nationalism, but I don't envy it. But if you want to nitpick: come on, we were never that good at soccer. We, as a people, know where our strengths lie. Wimbledon, on the other hand, well, that may be a tragedy. :)

die Frau said...

I'm divided: I do think our "start out strong, fade fast" mentality isn't so hot (and it's pretty Freudian...isn't the country run a great deal by MEN? See a pattern there?). I'm as guilty of it as anyone, which is why I'm glad I heard Anderson Cooper talk yesterday about how he's staying with the New Orleans/Katrina story even after everyone else has moved on to Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban's wedding.

On the other hand, we are a diverse bunch and that's reflected in the way we react to major events. In a country where we're basically a bunch of mutts and purebreds who came together in search of an idea and freedom, we've taken that freedom to care or ignore things as we choose. Is it right? Or is it our right to do so? I'm not sure.

I've never been such a strong American as when I was in another country trying to tell people that we have more school shootings and Coca-Cola and Hollywood and Monica Lewinsky. I think I am lucky to be an American--so lucky that I and others take our freedoms for granted until we go somewhere where the people don't have them. Of course, this also leads to the "ugly American", which I hate. While in Germany I did tell an older American couple not to be so obnoxious...they weren't in America, and this was why Americans got treated so poorly.

I do wish sometimes we could get behind a unified cause and stick with it...I think our partisanship sometimes hurts us in that we refuse to listen to others' ideas. I think if Bush keeps going the way he has, two groups will really form: Those who love him and think he can do no wrong and those who want to band together to defenestrate him (see last post comment to remember what that means!) for the good of the country.

Anyway, living so close to the border, I tend to celebrate the 4th of July in Canada every year at my friend's summer place. How's that for patriotism? ;-)

feather nester said...

Let's be sure to defenestrate him from a very, very high finestra.

Angie said...

Poor George W...can't we all just get along like we did in grade school? If you tried to throw him out a high window, he would just shoot you with one of his very big guns. God Bless America

Angie said...

Willie says that with Iraq and Afganastan, you could hit and miss, but North Korea you can't miss once. It would be the difference in fighting fire ants and a bear. Plus, we kinda have tasked China to keep North Korea in check. From there it gets a little complicated.

Ouiser said...

Ang, I love you for sticking to your conservative guns. More amazingly, I love the fact that I still love you in spite of it:).

Actually, that's a major thing that makes me proud to be an American. We can disagree, and providing I'm not a Dixie Chick, we can be vocal about our disagreements and no one is the worse for it.

Oh, and W wouldn't shoot me, he'd leave that one to Cheney.

Angie said...

Yeah, that one still makes me laugh. oh, on the local Mphs political mudfeat- there are 5 different agencies doing separate investigations on the Fed-Ex Forum concerning the misterous bus terminal that was never built, but paid for...Slick Willie at his best. You should check out channel 5 or the CA online. Sometimes it is better than cable t.v.