This fourth of July I find myself thinking a great deal about being an American in the 21st century, and pride. In the back of my head I have that hokey country song “God Bless the USA” with its chorus:

That I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I wont forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.

The concept comes off so comical to me, “proud to be an American.” What does that even mean? I am no more proud to be an American than I am:

  • Proud to have been born in California
  • Proud to be white
  • Proud to be tall
  • Proud to have four sisters
  • Proud to have a grandpa named Bob

I had no control in any of it, I won the birth lottery and just happened to be born in the United States. I just happened to have grown up to be a tall, white guy with four sisters and a grandpa named Bob, I didn’t select this configuration, it just happened to me. What’s to be proud of?

Taking pride in one’s country however, I entirely understand. I feel that one should take pride in the positive actions that we undertake as a nation, since it’s actions are theoretically comprised of our collective wills, by the same token, I think one should feel ashamed of the negative actions.

That said, I’m struggling to find things to be proud of America lately, there’s certainly a good bit to be angry and ashamed of:

  • Our participating in the secret ACTA treaty negotiations
  • The tarring of the Gulf of Mexico, a body of water I’ve spent nearly 40% of my life around.
  • Guantanamo
  • The shrinking middle class
  • Shutting down Shuttle service without a viable Shuttle replacement
  • Four horrifically expensive failed wars:
    • Drugs
    • Terror
    • Afghanistan
    • Iraq
  • A bloated federal government, with representatives who’ve forgotten who they represent (looking at you Orrin Hatch)
  • Irrational fear of nuclear power

I could go on, I could even start a whole new list of all the things we’ve screwed up here in California too, but it just makes angry, then sad, and then sleepy.

I’m sure there are plenty of things that Americans have done lately that one could take pride in, but none are coming to mind.

We have a mighty big hole to dig ourselves out of.