Recent events - horrible stories of bad situations followed by saddening actions and reactions - have wounded us as a society deeply. I think they have exposed wounds we still have and have been trying to ignore. Justice eludes us. Hope escapes us. Unity and solidarity are less dreams than jokes. America is full of people who think the answer to the problem is that we all should strap steel to our hip and play cowboy. We've become a nation of weaklings and cowards. Victims get blamed and the innocent get shamed.
I am not anti-USA. I am anti-elitism. I don't think we're better than anyone else, just because "we're 'muricans!" Look at what's going on in our nation. Clearly, we're not.
Am I "proud to be an American" (as the song goes)? As proud as I am that I have blue eyes, I suppose. I had no control over the chain of events which led me to either my azure irises or my citizenship. I generally take pride in things I actually accomplish. It was by chance or luck that I ended up in this part of the world with these blue eyes (and innate basketball skills).
Am I proud that America was forged on the backs of slaves, and Old Testament-style raping and pillaging and conquering and land-stealing? Certainly not. Am I proud to live in a country in which I can, as a white heterosexual male, enjoy benefits denied to those who aren't white, heterosexual, or male?
"If you don't love it, leave it." Why, so you and the rest of the wannabe John Waynes and Clint Eastwoods can keep on screwing up our nation? There's a reason why the rest of the world looks at us with disdain.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, Rosa Parks, Harvey Milk, Elizabeth Cady Stanton. These people - and all the others like them, both past and present - are only the beginning. As important as these people are, they just scratched the surface. There is still much more that needs to be done.
I have hope, though. I see glimpses of light. We have a long road, and a lot to do. The journey's gonna be bumpy, and a bit painful. But we can get there.
Veritas, Aequitas, Compatior et Libertas
“I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time -- when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness."
― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark