What is pride? How do you measure it? Are you proud, or extremely proud, and more importantly, do you know where the borderline between the two is? According to Gallup, and summarized by Axios, the number of Americans who feel “extremely proud” of America has dropped like a proverbial rock.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed individuals can change the world. In fact, it's the only thing that ever has."
---Margaret Mead, Anthropologist
George Washington and the other founding fathers of this nation knew that all men were created equal, that every man should have the right to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. That above all else these values are what we have been fighting for since 1776. Thomas Paine famously said "The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph." I hope that is true. We are in a battle for this nation to preserve those inalienable rights for all. It has never been easy. It has never been perfect.
We will get through this difficult time as we always have as long as we stay calm, assured, patient and persistence that Democracy and Justice for all are the only path forward for America. Please remember for MAGA they are being gaslighted by their politicians. Please separate the performers from the audience so we can speak to them and get through to them one conversation at a time and bring this nation together. We know for certain that we have always been and always will be "better together."
Thank you Steve for this wonderful post.
We have always had fair weather patriotism. Those who celebrate the victories of others and criticize defeats or setbacks. They are usually the loudest and usually have no clue what it takes to make a stand under fire and defend a position from an assult. This category of patriotism is where I place Donald Trump. He is quick to accept congratulations when things go well and even faster to lay the blame at someone else feet when things don't go as planned. Yes, we have always had fair weathered patriotism and there will always be people who think loud equals stong. However, as history has affirmed time after time, a silent, modest man is usually the bravest among us. Happy fourth of July
As next election is coming closer, I am paying attention to everything you are saying. I read these great men only after I have been in the US awhile and when the Burmese began their renewed struggle for democracy. As we continue to sacrifice many young lives fighting against the Burmese junta, the meaning of the lives and words of these great Americans resonates even deeper.
A few thoughts:
Steve as always prepared a well researched, reflective piece
I am glad to see dialogue
Reflection is needed on when we have done the right things and when we have not
The USA is a work in progress even now.
Rock throwing does not add to the reflective nature of being realistic about what we are facing.
Be strong, resolute and do not give up
The last time any of us experienced true American pride was immediately after 9/11. EVERYONE, no matter what party, was demonstrating pride and resolve to stand together as “one” America. That’s really not too long ago, but now, it seems like an eternity. Your essays document our country’s demise, as the divisions between us are so deep, nothing seems able to mend the ‘fractures’ between us. We’re even divided when it comes to supporting Ukraine, - or not. The fireworks last night lost a bit of their ‘luster’ and that will most likely continue as our story unfolds. How this all ends is anyone’s guess; I just feel thankful for having lived through the BEST years of American Democracy.
"Every Tory is a coward; for servile, slavish, self-interested fear is the foundation of Toryism; and a man under such influence, though he may be cruel, never can be brave." Still true today, but for Tory, substitute MAGA Republican.
Thank you for sharing this. It is badly needed. I served forty years in uniform. I have been to war, and seen its horror. Likewise, I’ve seen too much injustice in the nation that I long ago wore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, Foreign and domestic, and to bear true faith and allegiance to the same. Though now retired from the Navy, I still maintain that oath because I believe in the proposition of the Declaration that “we believe that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them being life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Unfortunately, we live in a time where we must fight, for the time politically, our countrymen who do not believe that and like the Southern Confederacy before them seek to either overthrow or destroy our Union and establish a tyranny when none but they are free. With every piece of legislation passed by MAGA legislatures, every bill signed by Ron DeSantis, and almost every recent Supreme Court ruling, we see the words of leading slave power advocate and secessionist George Fitzhugh appearing before our eyes. He said: “liberty for the few—slavery in every form, for the mass.”
But like Abraham Lincoln I cannot give up. I take inspiration from the Gettysburg Address every day.
Thank you for all that you do. Please be careful, these people “extreme patriots” are violent and dangerous. They have no idea what real patriotism is.
Author of “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory”: Religion and the Politics of Race in the Civil War Era and Beyond” (2022, Potomac Books an Imprint of the University of Nebraska Press)
Thank you Steve. Many of us here in New Jersey, both Democrats and moderate Republicans, are still fighting.
Steve, I am going to nitpick with you again. I say “nitpick” because I sgree with the sentiments you are conveying., wholeheartedly. We are dealing with a matter of national honor. When I was young, and I am older than you, I felt what you are calling “national pride”. My father had fought the good fight, the good war of World War II. The United States was led by General Eisenhower. The Marshall Plan was being implemented, if not in full effect. McCarthyism, however, was slinking through the land turning friends against one another. I remember heartfelt pledges of allegiance to “the flag of the United States and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” I remember feeling proud and grateful that I was born in such a country, consecrated to “all men are created equal”, to “liberty and justice for all” and to “government of the people, by the people and for the people.” At the time, however, I knew little of the plight of African-Americans or of their history. The pride I felt was largely born of inexperience and ignorance.
I’m sure the people who read your remarks and the comments we make in response know the history that has unfolded since that time: The U-2 plane, the Civil Rights movement, the War in Vietnam, the assassinations, Watergate, exposures of government hubris in the form of the Church committee’s exposure of the CIA, Daniel Ellsburg’s Pentagon Papers. Etc. Etc.
My point is this. Though I thought of “national pride” as you do, at the same time, I was simultaneously learning that pride itself is, traditionally, one of the 7 deadly sins. That pride in its essence is-- as one online dictionary of etymology says-- “unreasonable self-esteem.” This was a basic Sunday school teahching which conflicted with the everyday use of the word, and the encouragement of parents and society to “take pride in your work” or "take pride in yourself”, which was closer to “national pride.”
Because I believe that words are significant and that by lauding the idea of pride, we have lauded our own unreasonable self-esteem, I have concluded that national “honor" is a far more fitting term for both our personal and national esteem. Honor implies dignity and respect which are earned. It is related to the term “honesty” in such a way that we can say the person or nation which acts honorably strives to be honest in order to be honorable. Honor implies a loyalty to the substance of truthfulness and virtue, not to an image we would like to project to others to elicit unearned esteem. Because of his actions, Abraham Lincoln was an honorable man-- I think regarding him as a proud man does him disservice. The Southern antebellum proponents of slavery, on the other hand, were steeped in what they called “honor” culture, which was closer to a pride culture-- they thought themselves worthy of being esteemed for who they were (would-be aristocrats, slave owners and white supremacists) not what they did.
It seems to me our current national polarization, if it is to be overcome and the divisions healed, requires that we begin to encourage one another to be honorable in both our words and our conduct. and by so doing encourage an increasing sense of the obligations imposed upon us and our country by our national honor. `It is worth remembering that despite the dishonorable actions we as a nation have engaged in since our Founding, history has never before seen a nation constructed upon the deidcation to liberty, equality, and government of the people. Though we have fallen very short, our national ideals have aimed higher than any nation before us. We have an honorable foundationr, even if we do not have a history of honorable behavior. We have every right to esteem this foundation and build upon it. As a nation, as a people, we need to nurture the ideals and the reality of honor: not to lie for the sake of personal ambition, to avoid conflicts of interest which offer financial and social benefit for doing so; to expect more compassion and mercy and justice of ourselves than of others . We will never be perfect, but, to paraphrase psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl, “We have to aim higher than we are to be as good as we can be. Otherwise we will be less than we can be."
America has so much of which to be proud. It has created an effective democracy while providing opportunity to many, (not all) and shown a penchant for innovation unparallelled in history. It has created enormous wealth. It has provided life-saving benefits to its people. It has risen to the occasion to push back dictatorships from without while now in danger of succumbing to one from within.
The Horatio Alger story seems more a myth than an impetus today and that has taken much of the fire out of the American imagination, the driver of so much to be proud of. Alger's hero did the hard work, nose to the grindstone, dedication, drive, all of it. But now he has a layer of fat at his beltline. His step has slowed. He has given over to his wealth, his sense of entitlement, his fear of those who might take his place. And God help them if they are not his color. As majestic as he once was, he is now a Republican.
All that is there to be proud of is getting covered in a layer or two or more of mud. Their visibility diminishing. Pride is being replaced by greed and avarice and despair and depression and mental illness and it is just all too damn much. So Joe Biden and his cohort doing the good work is hardly noticed. The flailing and shouting and lying and lawlessness is filling the screen from corner to corner. People supporting a pillar of shit who is about to be awash in criminal idictments because he has been a criminal his whole life, gets shouts of support from people who have lost sight of what America has to be proud of and they delude themselves that they are still flinging tea into Boston harbor, as if they had an external enemy. No. Pogo guides us. He said, "We have met the enemy and he is us."
I think there is enough pride and desire for a better nation, a disdane for all the efforts to bring everything down. What I don't know is there sufficient motivation, leadership and real visceral fear to drive everyone who can move to the polls to save the country and start bringing pride back into the equation. I hope so. It's vital. It remains to be seen.
I am brought to grief and tears by Lincoln's sensitive prose.
Steve ty remember studying history in
Grammar school,high school and college
AND your writings honor our freedoms..
Our Democracy and the Constitution….
As a grandmother I’m grateful your
Sensibilities and respectful reminders
Of all the things that have been fought for
That we are blessed to have freedom from
Tyranny Freedom from Fascist Autocracy..
America is still the world’s best democracy
We are the world’s largest mixture of people who come from every continent…
Steve your writing is such a beacon of Hope and Gratitude…..🌹✅ Marsha ❤️
Outstanding essay. Outstanding research and writing. We should perhaps remember that pride isn't really a virtue to brag about.
Thank you for another great history lesson as applies to today, Steve.
Wow! You stirred up some shit, Steve.
Steve, this platitudinous patriotism is so tone deaf. It reeks of white, Christian, male privilege. And I had to stop reading the Thomas Paine letter when I got to this... "Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but "to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER" and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth." Tone-deaf doesn't even begin to describe this.
It's time to begin calling for a new independence. An independence from the myopic vision of our founding fathers. They knew slavery was wrong. There was a powerful abolitionist movement then. There was intense debate about it. The founding fathers wanted free labor at the expense of other humans' freedom, and their argument won the day. Justifying this by saying that they were "imperfect" is an understatement of criminal proportions. Enslaving, beating, raping, torturing and working to death other humans is not an imperfection. It's a crime against humanity.
I, for one, would like to finally set aside this myth of our founding freedom. We need to make a new declaration of independence. One that divorces us from enslavers. One that says, and means, that all humans, citizen or otherwise, are created equal. And anything less should be considered Un-American.