The Fourth of July is upon us, and much like last year, I am feeling particularly un-patriotic and unsure of how to feel celebratory. The main question that keeps rolling around in my head is this: "Do I feel proud to be American?" and I'm really struggling with my response.
If I were to pick an area to live in based on my own personality and values, let's be honest: it would be a socialist, Nordic country. I'm already accustomed to harsh weather--why not get free education, paid maternity leave, and healthcare as well?
Alas, while I do hope to travel there, my family and my life are here, in Minneapolis, which just so happens to be the place most like a Scandinavian city that I could think of to raise my children in.
So on the topic of patriotism here's what I can say: I feel a lot of pride for certain events and people in our history. For each awful thing that has happened in our storied past, there have been a lot of people fighting for civil and human rights along the way, as well.
Within my own family, I have ancestors who helped slaves escape using the Underground Railroad, relatives who proudly served in the military, and others whose philanthropic and civic efforts have made lasting positive effects on their communities. The one I Iike to brag about the most is my grandmother Ruth Bean's role in insisting that the Twin Cities needed a children's hospital--that children deserved and required a different kind of care than what a typical hospital could offer. And then she persevered until she had enough people and money on board to turn that idea into a reality.
I am also proud of what I can only call "The Resistance," those who wake up in this country every day and fight against the horrors of our current administration as well as the injustices in our country and government that have been here long before Trump.
So yes, I have pride in aspects of this Nation. I have hopes that soon we will put ourselves on the right side of history: the side of dignity, respect, leadership, and human rights. The side where children can go to school, receive a great education, and not get shot. The side where breastfeeding infants are not torn from their mothers and placed in the care of someone else indefinitely. You know, the basics.
I haven't traveled much internationally in the past few years, but I often wonder what it would be like to meet other travelers in this day in age, and whether I would admit to my nationality. I think, like I did post 9-11, I would stick with saying I was Canadian.
How is everyone else doing this Fourth of July? Are you feeling hopeful or downtrodden? Proud or ashamed? I welcome a thoughtful discussion.