Confessions of a Complacent American
by Lauren Kay Weber
Deep, dark confession: I haven’t ever really been a patriotic person. By that, I mean that my heart has never really swelled with pride at the thought of America. Flag Days in elementary school were just a day that we didn’t have regular classes; they didn’t really do much to instill the patriotism that I assume is the day’s purpose. I’m not particularly proud of this fact. I really do admire those who identify with their country (Americans or not) and take a sense of ownership in its history, present and future.
I’m not really sure why I have always been this way. My parents are as conservative as they come. My mom even grounded me the day I declared in high school that I registered as a Democrat. (I have since decided that the two party system we have here in the U.S. is too limited for my political leanings and switched to be an independent.) I say the following with no haughtiness or snobbery at all: the closest I think I can get to hitting the bullseye on why I’ve never been very nationalistic is that I’ve always been more concerned with my membership in humanity than I am about what feel like arbitrary political lines. But even then, in the whole world of possibilities as to why I feel this way, that dart only very nearly makes it on the dart board somewhere on the outer rim just shy of nailing the wall of definite no’s behind it.
In the past few years, I have felt a nagging pull to foster a different feeling toward my country. This fact is mainly due to the emphasis that my church has on respecting our nation. It is even a core tenant of the church that America was founded in a joint effort between God and man. We have scriptures that state very clearly that the founders of this nation, even the finder (if you can call Christopher Columbus that) of North America, were inspired to create this nation. These verses are in books of Scripture in which I wholeheartedly and undeniably believe; as such, I can’t, in good conscience, self-select out of these notions about the U.S.
All of that being said, today is July 4th. The day to celebrate America. My celebrations of this day have always been much more cultural than symbolic and meaningful, a circumstance that has been bolstered by the fact that July 4th is my dad’s birthday. I have great memories of this day: sparklers in the back yard, hamburgers on the grill (pre-vegetarianism, mind you), pool parties. Even the Fourth of July sunburns hold a nostalgic place in my heart.
Still, I want this day to mean more, if not solely for me, definitely so that I can do what I can for my children to avoid this predicament in their own futures. I want to be able to finish this post with a flourish; to be able to satisfy your – and my – desire for a fulfilling conclusion. Perhaps an epiphany or two. If I’m honest – and I want to be – I just don’t have that in me. So what to do?
Well, I think that I can put my intention to better myself in this area out into the world. I can state, boldly, that I really do want to have that epiphany. And then I can go and try to do something about it. Today, I think I’ll read the Declaration of Independence.