One of my college professors used to give short soliloquies on how we should not identify ourselves as citizens of any particular nation. He said we should be "citizens of the world." I remember thinking, "What does that even mean?" every time he said that. My student evaluations reflected my confusion on the subject. As I ruminate, I remember that the idea of being a "citizen of the world" and not of any one particular country has become old hat. At least, since I was a kid. The term itself is so vague that I do not think I can actually define it in a blog post. I can, however, diss it to my heart's content.
I am not here to point out why any particular country is better than any other country. I like my country best because it's where I was born. I am a part of my nation. I am invested in its political process, its laws, and its people. I speak the language primarily spoken here. I discuss and debate values based upon a common upbringing with those around me. In some senses, my childhood was not very common. I do not understand the desire to go out and make another country's culture into my own culture. This has become a popular practice of late. I am not sure why; although, Allen Bloom had a lot to say about that. I am interested in learning about other cultures. Sometimes other cultures annoy me -- I notice only the children of Mexican descent trying to sit on my parked car when I look out the window, for example. Sometimes my own culture annoys me -- hugs are practically illegal here. At the same time, I respect other cultures for what they are and only make value judgments based on obvious moral wrongs (e.g. human sacrifice). I also appreciate many of the distinctly American notions that we bat around on an everyday basis.
One of the things I love about my nation is private property laws. In the U.S. we get a lot of crap thrown at us for being "materialistic." But that is part of what we are. Frankly, we started this country because we got fed up with paying taxes. We like our stuff and we don't like other people trying to take it away from us. That's not really a problem. I mean, buying a house is a right of passage to adulthood. I'm fine with that. I just bought a home and will move into it within the next two months. I'm stoked. I plan to make sure it's secure and well maintained. You know why? Because it's my house. My own property. It's important to me.
That's really the bottom line of why I care about the country where I was born and the place I have made for myself in my own community. It is mine. I have moved from place to place a lot. I have finally found a good place to call my home. I like it because it belongs to me. I want to make my community a better place because it's a part of my life. I appreciate many things about my country including the rule of law and the right to vote.
Today was chosen to be a day of remembrance and celebration. It's not a day to remember all the things I hate about my country or all the horrible things my government has done. It's a day to remember what I value about my country and why I will continue to work for its betterment. It's a day to remember that I am a citizen of the United States of America and that does have meaning. It gives me a sense of identity that being a "world citizen" never could. I know who I am based partly on the fact that I live in this place and I comply with its rules. I try to change the rules I disagree with, yes. And I appreciate the fact that I am free to work against the laws that disrupt my moral code. I appreciate the fact that I can go out and suggest everybody vote for a guy just because I agree with his principles -- and even though I always knew he would never win. I really love my country.
I am not a citizen of meaninglessness. I am a citizen of the US. Now, for some fireworks . . .