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Patriotism: Increasing Love for the Imperfect

Joined: 7/31/2013
Posts: 1
My country is the United States (US). It is characterized by its political system, its rules, its environment, its people, its customs, its traditions, its opportunities and its problems. That is why loving the US does not mean that an American gets a blissful feeling of homecoming every time he or she returns to US soil. Loving the US entails taking pride in America’s good aspects, trying to improve upon its bad aspects and understanding how the American experience compares with the rest of the world’s.
After all, compared to many in the world, we Americans are considered well off and have reason to be proud of our lives. Our school systems are inclusive and provide children and young adults of all races and genders with an opportunity to learn the basics, something many in the world envy. Members of our population receive at least basic food supplies, healthcare, and benefits of sanitation services. We have rights protecting our property, privacy and innocence until our guilt is proven. We can vote or run for office to make a difference in our government. We have lovely national parks, retain our religious freedoms, are protected by a powerful military and have many other liberties, opportunities and resources that can be envied. But no matter how proud we are of the idyllic package, Americans must admit our country is not perfect.
We Americans must temper our pride. While education exists, educational opportunities are not equal throughout the country, and the average American schoolchild cannot compete academically with students from other developed countries. Every citizen has access to healthcare services, but the quality of the services and subsequent life quality is highly dependent upon how much money a citizen pays for them. The right to bear arms gives citizens access to unregulated lethal weapons, endangering our neighborhoods. Our privacy from each other is secured, but our privacy from our government is compromised. Although religious freedom is allowed, it is statistically unlikely for non-Christians to hold certain positions of power. The economy is doing poorly. When we add in the fact that issues of gender, age, race and ability discrimination still exist, we Americans must add at least a touch of humility to our pride.
So, loving America is less like stepping off the plane and into bliss and more like putting on a beloved but worn pair of shoes. You know the scuffs exist, but a bit of polish and elbow grease make that comfortable pair better than a new pair of shoes. My countrymen and I can be proud of the fact that we live in a lovely country and that through our own efforts, are assured opportunities to improve it. We can acknowledge the US’s good aspects, and use them as inspiration to improve upon its bad ones. That is why loving the US involves knowing its good and its bad sides, calling it home anyway and doing what we can to increase our pride in it.
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