Pride in one’s country is a good thing. In fact, I would argue that in some cases in particular it is almost necessary to excel and be the best.
For the Olympic athlete for instance – or for the politician – and certainly for a man or woman serving in the armed forces…it is a distinct pride in one’s country that can be the motivating factor and/or the driving force to be elite and to act selflessly; especially when a given person recognizes they are a part of something that is bigger than their self. However, as is the case with ANYTHING in life, no matter how noble this idea of pride might be, there is always what is known as too much of a good thing.
Whether you are religious or not maybe you will be familiar with one of the “Ten Commandments” found in the bible that reads: “Thou shall not have any other god’s before me”. That verse is essentially a reference to not succumbing to the ever present temptation of idolatry or of worshiping a “false god” – particularly in a society like America where let’s just say we have a lot going on! The “gods” or “idols” we erect in our individual lives could be money – prestige – status – a person/celebrity – a house or car – and so on. And the reason I mention that verse is because I believe that Americans have collectively created a “false god” in the form of what we might call “fanatical patriotism” or an “American Idol”; which is much different from a healthy pride in one’s country. In fact, the general public has done so to the point of becoming a cliché of sorts whereby citizens of this nation regurgitate scripted lines of which – to be quite honest – we have all been indoctrinated with from birth on some level.
There are SO many layers to this subject matter and I really wish I had time to unpack this further than I will be able to today. But, in the interest of time I want to talk about the particular fact that what some people call “Patriotism” (the kind that is built upon a false reality) is actually a tool that is utilized by those in power to – among other things – oppress people of color and ironically emboldens people to behave in a manner that is detrimental to the very freedoms they themselves hold so dear. All of this while believing their cause to be a righteous one, no less.
A perfect example is the “untouchable” pedestal that police officers or “first responders” – are placed upon. It’s true – police officers have a dangerous and often times thankless job. And if somebody breaks into the home of yours truly – you better believe I am going to dial 911 with the quickness! I appreciate what first responders do on a daily basis and believe that they ought to be commended for their service to the public. But, does that mean that police officers (for instance) are infallible? Incorruptible? Or, most importantly, are they impervious to the tenants of White Supremacy that infiltrate ALL other facets of society? Of course not.
As we all know one of the social issues at the forefront of the current fight for equality in America is police brutality against people of color. We have all seen video footage of black men being shot in the back: which is indisputable proof that policemen are not perfect. However, what happens in the midst of the discussions which transpire after many a police shooting is that a lot of Americans who are over-zealous about the ideals they “grew up on” – REFUSE to accept any possible wrong-doing on the part of police officers in our country and instead regurgitate lines that they have heard all their lives: “Policemen are the best”. “America is the greatest”. “Black people shoot other black people so they can’t talk”. Oh and then there’s the ridiculous line that is often repeated as of late: “Go live somewhere else if you don’t like it here” or “Go back to Africa”.
And I get it (not patronizing) – some individuals have been told all their lives that America is the land of the free and home of the brave. They have been told that you can NEVER criticize the police or soldiers who put their lives on the line for you. NEVER….EVER do you do that. And what’s more is that those “ideals” they have been taught match THEIR reality as they walk down the street. Meaning that they have NEVER had to worry – not even for a second – that they may be discriminated against or possibly killed based on the color of their skin. The very idea that someone in a position of authority would harm them without due cause is inconceivable – especially not the “good old “boys in blue”! So therefore when those individuals see that NFL athlete – that “son of a b&$@h” as Trump put it…kneeling during the anthem??! It goes against every idea of America that they have ever known or experienced – ideas they have been dutifully trained to love and revere.
My response to those who take that approach is to begin by stating that NO ONE and NO THING is perfect.
And that goes for America as a whole – the Flag…Soldiers…Police Officers…you name it. We are all imperfect and so that means that since WE are America – America must be imperfect too, right? And what I want those individuals who have not considered this perspective to understand is: Your reality is not this writer’s reality. Nor is it the reality of millions of other Americans. And, yet, America has cultivated a particular and peculiar type of jingoism that has led to an idol-like perspective of a country whose ideals do not match the reality experienced by ALL of her citizens.
Instead of actually adhering to the principles put forth by our founding fathers, America is currently engaged in the overzealous worshiping of an “idea” (freedom for all) that is not even real to begin with and never has been given the overtly racist track record of our country. The antidote: we must take down or remove these false gods and begin to focus on the humanity of every person everywhere. If we truly want America to be as special as some have portrayed it to be today – we won’t start with a worshiping OF the flag – we’ll start with insisting on equality for all which will give true validation TO the flag…or any of the other American Idols or symbols at whose feet many have fallen prostrate.
Oreos to go:
17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
Daniel (Chapter 3)
More than a blog. It’s a movement.
Though there is much more that could be said, I will have to stop for now. But hopefully you will continue the conversation in your living rooms, at your places of worship, and even with that person of another race you just met as you were walking down the street in your neighborhood.
And also I do have what I think is another interesting plate of cookies on a platter for next Monday (you can share via social media buttons below), when I hope you will join me again to talk some more oreos.