I’ve always had a weird relationship with patriotism. As a Canadian kid I wondered if the thing I was supposed to be proud of was that Canadians weren’t so brashly patriotic. Later I moved to America and jumped on the “we’re #1” bandwagon. I got off after first realizing that politics is messy and there aren’t any leaders worth admiring, then realizing that that’s always been true (and may even have been worse in the past). My default position over the past few years (before and after getting citizenship) has been “
America The world is a nice place, with nice people. And America has one of the better (deeply flawed) political systems.” But I’m not the sort of person who goes out of his way to say the pledge of allegiance.
But I might have stumbled on a secret patriotic feeling that swells in my heart nearly every time I read the news: a profound embarrassment.
Maybe bureaucratic reports have worn me thin, but I’m increasingly shouting “Get it together America! You’re embarrassing me!” any time I encounter news.
When crazy people do crazy stuff I’m not inclined to feel embarrassed, because I don’t know that angry lady who doesn’t understand traffic lights! But family can embarrass you. Embarrassment is an expression of your fear that you’re more like Uncle Joe than you feel comfortable with.
If this is what patriotism feels like, I don’t get it.