Do I love my country?

Category: Americas, World Affairs Topics: United States Of America Views: 1155

This past July 4th I was asked by a stranger in Chicago, if I loved my country. What follows was my response:

For the parameters of the answer and the sake of clarity, I will define my interpretation of the phrase "my country."

"My country" is:

The geographical, physical territory that represents the political entity known as the United States;

The ideals, morals, and values held dear by the United States (rhetorically) and espoused and codified in its founding documents such as the Constitution and Declaration of Independence;

The culture and ways of the inhabitants of the United States;

The actions of the people, or more specifically, the government of the United States.

Here are my thoughts regarding each of the above.

"This land is your land. This land is my land."

I certainly love the land that is the United States (I believe the American West to be one of the most beautiful places in the world); but then again, I have a very deep connection with the Earth in general and revere the cosmos in its totality. I backpack, canoe, rock climb, and wander as much as possible, so as to feel that communion with the planet that is naturally accentuated during such activities.

I enjoy learning about and acting upon environmental challenges we face as a species, as well as informing myself about geology, the identification of birds and trees, etc. I'm deeply concerned about the health of the planet, globally speaking, and here where I live in the U.S. specifically. So, in this sense, I love my country.

"With liberty and justice for all." 

With little hesitation I would proclaim that the ideals and values laid as the cornerstone of the political and philosophical United States of America are the very ones that move me. If one considers reverence for the same ideals as constituting love, then, once again, I love my country. However, this statement is almost completely meaningless, because who isn't (except the incredibly powerful or wealthy) a champion of such things: freedom of speech, justice, equality, liberty, etc?

"Grandma, apple pie, and baseball."

This category is so broad as to elude a definite answer. Obviously, there are many aspects and features of our U.S. culture and social climate that I feel are immature or digressive. However, there are many I see as creative, valuable, and worthy of recognition and honor.

So, am I split when it comes to this issue? If loving my country excludes critical and uncompromising analysis, followed by vocal solutions for cultural and social issues, then I don't. If it means praising the praiseworthy, being courageous enough to acknowledge our many shortcomings, taking responsibility for our actions, and working for change and to better ourselves, then I do. Justifications and rationalizations are not prerequisites of love.

"Where'd you hear that?" 

This last category is the most crucial because it deals with reality the fullest. This is the category where deeds are sifted from words and one's integrity and conviction are seen. Are we hypocritical, employing double standards conveniently, or are we true to our vision, our words?

We must ask not only, "Do I love the actions of my country's government," but "Do I know what the government of my country actually does?" It should be noted that the actions of government directly cast its citizens in a certain light.

At this time I'd like to state that the point of this short article is not to list atrocities or wrongdoings perpetuated by the U.S., internationally and domestically, that would lead me to condemnation. Literature and facts abound which document such activity. Besides, if one is halfway intelligent, then such proof is not needed because it is already known; and if one is still in denial regarding such activities, then "proof and facts" are still meaningless because of the close-mindedness of those individuals to logic and carefully constructed arguments.

But, ultimately, we must ask what are the effects and/or direct results of the U.S.' actions and, more importantly, lifestyle? How can we allow our government to do what it does? Do people really believe in forever? As in: endless oil, endless wood, endless land, endless cures, and endless luxury. Don't worry, God or the State will solve everything. Is that what we really think?

Here is where the U.S. has failed and has been failing for the last century. Failed not only the spirit of our predecessors and cultural values but also the world at large and the power of example. Failed, with all of our "advancements" - both technological and ethical - money, and influence, to lead the world, or even our neighbor, down a new path. Instead, we've shown them the barrel of a gun. We've become the world's biggest hypocrites and megalomaniacs. This is the country, this is the U.S., that I cannot bring myself to love.

So, do I love my country? Yes and no.

I have an idea for all of those who mindlessly echo others' mantras of "God bless America": how about "God bless us all." Or does your God not love the heathens and the swarthy?

Two virtually organic entities, the Internet and the economy, are globalized and, perhaps, naturally so. But then why can't our love and compassion?

Matthew Riemer has written for years about a myriad of topics, such as: philosophy, religion, psychology, culture, and politics.  He encourages your comments: [email protected]


  Category: Americas, World Affairs
  Topics: United States Of America
Views: 1155

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Older Comments:
What is patriotism?
Jackson Browne: "... its my country wrong or right..."
Credence Clearwater Revival: "... some folks were born to wave the flag... it aint me, I aint no fortunate son..."

Two American cultural icons addressed patriotism as they percieved it. The first: amoral submission to human leadership. The second: some people claim loyalty to America and call for war and patriotism yet avoid war for themselves and prosper from their antics politically and financially.
The rich in America send the poor to war and prosper from it. The powerful send the weak to war and prosper from it.
Patriotism aint fightin' imperial redcoats anymore. Then, patriotism meant life or death.
Today, its part and parcel of a propaganda campaigns by a powerful, influential ruling establishment.
I encourage readers to seek the truth even if its against your own father's views.


Thank you for articulating what I feel.
Raising a flag my mean different things to different people but to me Raising an American flag meant all what you have said. That is why I had painted the flag on a bolder near my house for every one to see year round winter and summer rain or shine good times or bad time.

I agree with everything the author says, except for the following point:

'Besides, if one is halfway intelligent, then such proof is not needed because it is already known'

This is simply not true. There are literally millions of people who don't know what their government has done. If you go to a gathering of, say, college students in America, and ask them about the 'Secret' bombings of Cambodia, easily 50% will draw a blank. They can be very intelligent people, but unless they happen to come across the answers, they don't even know what questions to ask. They don't know there ARE questions to be asked. There are very few clues that anything 'out-country' is amiss in an insulated, everyday, American's life. This article would have been better if it had provided some of the instances the author is refering to, so the 'halfway intelligent' people reading it could have a jumping off point.
As individuals, Americans are don't lack intelligence or compassion. Ironically enough, what they lack is information.

I can't agree with you more. I, too, was asked this same question, in an accusatory manner, by a neighbor. The lack of an American flag after 9/11 waiving over my home beckoned the question, I suppose. My answer was that if flying a flag proved my love than I can do that. Instead, I choose to earn an honest living, teach my children to be good to their neighbors, my wife teaches children at a public school, we pay taxes and respect the laws of society in which we live. We wish our neighbors good morning, and check up on them at night for safety. By raising an honest, educated, moral family, I believe Muslims contribute so much more to this country than mere flag waiving. The average White American of European decent fails to see this.

This still brings up an important point, which I would like to address with a quote I'm sure I will murder. Someone once said:
"I love my country so much that I would never start trusting my government (or something to that affect).