I'm far from the most patriotic American out there. Though I used to be fiercely patriotic, so much so that I'd often engage in prolonged shouting matches with anyone who questioned the motives of our "leaders," and the purpose of the War on Terror and in Iraq.
It wasn't a slow transition to where I stand now. When I first started college back in January of 06, I was still a proud patriot, willing to defend my country against any detractors. However, upon being faced with America's true history, as opposed to the white-washed, propagandized version served up in elementary and high-schools across the nation, I was forced to change. Note that I didn't choose to change, but was forced to beneath the weight of the evidence that this country was not, in fact, some shining city on a hill.
Keep in mind that I harbor no ill-will towards America, but I merely see it now as it truly is: another imperfect, secular nation, subject to the flaws of it's inhabitants and leaders. During this transition, my allegiance shifted drastically from being towards the symbols of this country such as the flag, our version of freedom and democracy, or "the office of the president," to being merely with the people of the nation and wanting whatever was best for them. Or, in short, I abandoned the American ideology in favor of supporting uncompromising truth, regardless of what side of the political aisle it may lay on, even if it lay on the fringes of political thought.
I do what I do, vote how I vote, and support the ideas I support, because I love the people who inhabit the American land, and not because I love the the land or the nebulous and ever-shifting American Idea. If doing what is right and good means abandoning the flag, then I'm prepared to do so.
Now, with that out of the way...I watched the inauguration of our newest President, Barack Obama, today. I must admit that I felt enormous pride swelling up inside me as he spoke the oath of office. I even got a tad choked up (but hid it as best I could, seeing as I was in public at the time). This doesn't mean racism is dead and defeated in this country, but without a doubt, the election of President Obama is a sign that we are moving in the right direction.
At the same time, I feel elated not just by hope of a future marked by racial equality, but by the hope that the future might be brighter than the past in many more ways. However, going even deeper into my heart, I tell myself not to get excited. Maybe it's just because I'm a pessimist, but then again, maybe my concerns are real.
Before progress can be made, so much must be undone before we even begin to gain any ground. Not only that, but what if President Obama disappoints? Many on the left have already begun scrutinizing and critiquing his decisions. Needless to say, so have those on the right. He says he intends to listen to the people and to run the most transparent and open government in American history. Will he? My hopes are high. But like a drug that lifts you out of a depression, it's not substantive. We need results, and until I see them, I won't be celebrating (at least not too much).
Let's not let this optimism go unfettered, so as not to become complacent stooges and baseless defenders of the office of the president, either Obama or some other future occupant.