Patriotism and Family

Today is July 4, a holiday in the US celebrating its founding and independence. 


With everything going on, I’ve heard talk of Americans opting out of July 4 celebrations. I understand the sentiment, but I disagree with it. I am American; I was born and raised there and lived there till 2006, when I moved to London. I am also half Spanish. So I have plenty of distance and perspective to turn a critical eye to the country I called home for so long. 


And yet, I am proud to be American - as unfashionable as that is - because even with all the upheaval and changes that are so unwelcome to so many of us, it is a place, and a society, that is a part of me. And there is plenty of bad and ugly stuff there, but also a lot of good and admirable stuff. The can-do attitude, annoying levels of positivity, earnestness, and cult of excellence are the American attributes that I am grateful to have been raised around (not that I necessarily embody or exhibit them!). 


It is like family - no individual is perfect, and neither is any family. It is a collection of attributes and dynamics that every one of us has to manage through our whole lives as members with varying degrees of influence and authority. 


A country is the same - a collection of attributes and dynamics that must be managed; admittedly wildly more complex, with other governance structures at play. (Is your family autocratic or democratic?) But the principle is the same - at the end of the day, a family is a small tribe, which is a part of many other tribes…including your local council and, the ultimate ‘official’ tribe, your country. 


I am pretty reliably liberal, and will raise my hand as a card-carrying member of the ‘global elite’ (our kids have 5 nationalities!!) but there is a place for patriotism, and in that I sympathise with conservatives. BUT of the earnest, aspirational flavor of patriotism, not the mean, exclusionary one.