There’s a lot to think about during this year’s 4th of July weekend.
Celebrating American Independence within the frame of the Black Lives Matter protests, police brutality, treatment of COVID-19 by the President, uncovering sexual assaults and murders against women in the military… it only feels like a contridiction.
It’s hard for me to find what there is to celebrate about this country.
But I still wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
Just because I educate myself about the flaws of the United States, doesn’t mean I hate it and think it’s terrible and leave it at that.
That would be like critiquing someone else’s work and saying it’s bad but not giving any substantial advice on how to fix it.
For those who are only hearing the complaints about how this country is ran, know that‘s what you’re electing to hear and you’re actively ignoring the real critiques and suggestions activists are making to MAKE IT BETTER.
And it’s an excuse to say you haven’t seen the suggestions. If you really cared and wanted to know what abolishing the police means, you would click on that link and read an article that was shared or swipe through that instagram post explaining it.
What’s great about living in the U.S. is being able to speak about what you believe in. To be able to educate yourself on what’s going on around you and make informed decisions. To then be able to critique our own country and point out its flaws so that we can do the work to be better.
Patriotism is a loaded word. These days, conservatives are more likely to claim the term “patriot” than liberals.
Patriotism is being devoted and loving your country, as well as upholding its ideals.
I think you can love your country while still pointing out it’s flaws.
I feel like conservatives who claim to be patriots are more concerned with maintaining the status quo. They are willing to blindly follow and trust the systems put in place.
I saw this post on Facebook that reflected how I feel about what it means to be a patriot in the United States today:
To make an analogy in case it is hard to wrap your mind around this:
You can’t make yourself a better person if you’re not going to acknowledge that you have flaws. But acknowledging your own flaws and wanting to change doesn’t mean you hate yourself.
In Hamilton, the musical, Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote, “America, you great unfinished symphony…”
He also wrote, “We will never be free until we end slavery.”
Yes, America is still unfinished.
But some believe that it is.
And we haven’t ended slavery.
It’s been turned into the prison system.
Recognizing this means that we have a long way to go to live out the ideals we built this country on.
And it’s okay for America to forever be unfinished.
It would be humbling for us to recognize that we’re never going to be perfect and there’s always ways we can be better.
Really though, patriotism is a word that humans made up. We can easily change (or enhance) the way we define that word.
Just like how the systems within the United States of America is made by humans, we can change those systems so that they reflect our ideals today.
AND THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT THE BLACK LIVES MATTER PROTEST IS FIGHTING FOR.
Here’s a great article from NPR about Black Patriotism. It is also an episode on NPR’s Code Switch Podcast, if you’d rather listen. Article here.
Over the 4th of July weekend, Native Americans protested to prevent Trump’s rally at Mount Rushmore and several were arrested. Mount Rushmore is part of Lakota land and, according to treaties signed by the United States, the Lakota people and other tribes nearby have the right to assert their sovereignty.
I would also read up on why Mount Rushmore itself is controversial, to say the least.
The Black Hills Bail and Legal Defense Fund is collecting donations to help those that have been unjustly arrested. If you have the means, please consider donating here.