The Unpatriotic Patriot

I may be the most patriotic person that I know.  You know what, I take that back.  My boy Mike Jones is the most patriotic person I know.  He makes people take their hats off during the national anthem.  People he doesn't even know.  And sternly too.  Like it's not even a choice.

       - Ma'am, take off your hat!  Show some respect.

So yeah.  It's Mike Jones and then me.  I'm the second most patriotic person that I know.  My friends here think I'm brainwashed.  Bro-in-Law says that I would be considered a racist here if I said things about Sweden that I do about the US.  It is what it is.  I love my country.  I think my country is great. I was willing to die for my country.  Tears welled up in my eyes as I saluted B-1 bombers before they departed to demolish Iraq at the beginning of that unjust war.  I get chills as I think about that moment.  I get goosebumps when I hear "The Star-Spangled Banner".  Call me brainwashed, but I just love the USA!

I was recently involved in what one would say is a healthy debate on Facebook.  Imagine that... a disagreement on social media!  The debate remained civil because it was between me and a gentleman that I considered a mentor when I got to my first base.  He and I are on different sides of the political spectrum.  I would venture to say that he is a very right-leaning conservative based on posts that he shares.  Normally I avoid debates about passionate subjects with people that I know won't change their point of view, but on this day I decided to engage.  His post was about the complex situation that is the rioting in Baltimore.

I've posted my thoughts about a similar situation as the Baltimore one when Ferguson happened.  So my point of view is out there.  I ended that blog post by saying that sadly this will happen again.  It did happen again.  A man was killed... no, a man's spine was severed... at the hands of the police.  Within the past few years, police killings have been publicized more and more.  Possibly because everyone has a camera phone.  Riots ensued.  The rioters justified their actions as being angry at the system.  Rioters were portrayed as thugs and criminals.  It's the same old dance.  Unfortunately what gets lost in all of the mess every time is the fact that police officers are making the decision to take people's lives. And many times it goes unpunished.  I do not think rioting is the answer.  However, blaming the rioters is not the answer either.

So my conservative friend and I had this healthy and respectful debate and were lauded by a mutual friend of ours for being so civil and informative.  I was proud to be able to share opposing thoughts and to receive his perspective.  It's easier when you actually know the other person.  The debate winded down.  We agreed to disagree, of course.  Then our mutual friend said something about being glad to be from "The greatest country on earth".  I nodded in agreement as I read her comment.  Then something hit me.  She's talking about America.  The America that the three of us in this debate surely love.  America ISN'T the greatest country on earth.

I considered writing that epiphany as it hit me.  Too many emotions were filling me.  I knew I would be attacked if I said that.  Everything had been so civil.  I closed out the post and thought about it.  The fact that I couldn't say what I really felt bothered me.  Was I a coward?  No, I wasn't a coward.  I'm a realist.  I know that everybody shuts down when you say America isn't number one.  It would have been pointless.  And me moving to Sweden would make it look like I abandoned the US for what I stupidly thought was a better land.  I let the debate end there and chose not to like her comment.

I love America.  I always will.  It is my love for America that makes me want it to be the best.  But when you really think about it, we're just not there right now.  We score lower than the rest of the civilized world in math and science every year.  We don't even break the top 10.  Ever.  The great equalizer that is education is the most expensive in the western world, so our poor are pretty much left to figure it out.  Sad to say, but the cure for cancer could be in the mind of a kid that can't afford to go to college to bring it out.  Our health care system is embarrassing.  The relationship between our police and the population is strained.  Trust in our government is completely nonexistent which is evident by the fact that we vote at a lower rate than most other countries.  That same government voted against a law that would mandate paying women the same amount of money as men for doing the same job.  Couldn't get that right either.  We're fat, immobile and unhealthy on average.  Couple that with schools dropping physical education programs each year and our broken health care system then you've got one hell of a hamster wheel.  We categorize people by the color of their skin.  I'll write that again.  WE CATEGORIZE PEOPLE BY THE COLOR OF THEIR SKIN.  It's the norm now.  We're all used to it.  It is wrong!  How does it benefit a child to fill out her "race" before taking a test or visiting a doctor?  All it does is make her pick a team.  It teaches division.  These are just some of the things that keep America from realizing its potential.  But most Americans are quick to recite that script that has been beaten over our heads all of our lives.

       - America is the greatest country on earth!

Just because you say it doesn't make it true.  The greatest thing about America is that it is set up to be better.  The founding fathers knew that they had to write a living document.  That was the key.  The document that they wrote was appropriate for the times that they lived in.  It set the foundation for a great country.  They knew that the country would evolve.  Society would change.  As society changed, the document would need to change.  That document is the Constitution.  The greatest thing about The Constitution is that it is amendable.  It should be updated to keep the country great.  They had it all figured out and then generations began to drop the ball.  Now there are actually people that argue that the original Constitution is what we should live by.  Does that mean that black people would revert back to 3/5 of a human being?  Women shouldn't be able to vote?  Come on, people.  It's amendable for a reason.  I digress.

I am passionate about this because I would love to proudly say that America is the best country in the world and be right about it.  It would be nice to be the country that the world looks up to during my lifetime.  It just hasn't felt that way for a while.  I do feel that we're heading in the right direction as of late.  There seems to have been more of a focus on education and health care by the government. At least they're talking about it.  Whether they do something is yet to be seen.  I'm waiting for the true issue to be acknowledged.  People are demonized and attacked whenever they broach the issue of decreasing the military budget.  That is the problem.  Government money beefs up a military that is larger than the next ten militaries combined.  It's a waste of money.  When has paranoia equaled greatness?  Some of that money could be going to making us smarter and healthier.  But it's just like the "Greatest country on earth" and "God's Country" stuff.  To not agree with it means you disagree with freedom.  You hate America if you don't think she's the greatest.

I love America for its potential.  America is set up to be the greatest country in the world.  In the past, most of the world agreed that America was the greatest and America worked hard to live up to it.  It's too bad that at some point we believed the hype and stopped trying.  Now we're middle of the pack and I say that with all of the patriotism within me.  I hope America can get back on top.  It starts with acknowledging that we're not there anymore.  Until next time...


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