A whole lot has been written on this site lately, mostly in the comment section following bikepunk’s George Carlin is awesome post, regarding the concept of pride. Proud of this, proud of that.
KG commented: “It’s easy to understand why some people, especially those that contribute to this blog aren’t proud to be an American, because they’re not proud OF America.”
I don’t even know what that means. And I’ll try to explain why.
Let me make a short analogy. Countries are like states. Think nation states. Nation states are countries. Our country, the United States, is a federal republic built of separate states which maintain at least some individuality, some sovereignty. United we stand, divided we fall and all that. Anyway, all this talk of being proud of one country over another is quite like being proud of one state over another. Or, as the case may be in this instance, over all others.
Many states in our union are vastly different than one another. I was born in Maryland, lived there for two years I remember nothing about, spend the next four years in Connecticut. I graduated high school in Pennsylvania, then moved to Arizona for college. Bounced around a bit between Flagstaff, Phoenix, Tucson and back to Flagstaff with a short detour through Idaho thrown in for good measure.
Do I like where I live? Sure. I like Flagstaff. I like being here. Do I think it’s the best place to live of all the places I’ve been? Mostly, yes. That can change depending on the weather, and say, my mood and day of the week. But I’m mostly just joking about that last part. Mostly. I like the friends that I have, the house that I own, the bikes out in my garage, the trails I ride. All of that and then some.
Am I proud of it all? Yes. Can I still complain about it without damaging said pride? Yes, I think that I can.
And, furthermore, I choose to be here. I did not choose to be born in Maryland. I know nothing about Maryland – remember, we moved away when I was just two years old. What the hell do I owe to the state of Maryland? My pride? I was not involved in any of it – it could have just as easily been Virginia if that’s where the military hospital was located instead of Bethesda.
Am I to be proud of where I’ve made a choice to live, or where I just happened to be born? Can it be both? If so, what’s the split? 50-50%? 70-30%? Is there a fucking etiquette book on this shit?
I really don’t get it.
If I write about the colossal embarrassment which is the Bush Administration, be it about torture, in invasion of Iraq, the response to Hurricane Katrina, or any of the rest of it, how the hell does that make me “not proud OF America”? Why is it some demented “all or nothing” deal?
And, if I wasn’t “proud”, why the fuck does it matter? I’ve voted in every election since I was of age, and I haven’t always been happy with my choices. So, what’s the answer then? Not vote at all, because if you complain you lose your chance to participate? If you question, you should be silenced?
I’ll leave you with this, because I can embed videos and bikepunk can’t.
So much can be said in three simple words: Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
1984. Totally on top of his game.
I saw him in Philadelphia about a month before he died. He tore doors off the hinges.
If that ain’t Proud to be American, I don’t know what is.