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#1864657 - 09/19/23 03:49 AM My Thoughts about Patriotism, inspired by Mexican Independence Day
Jazzooo Offline
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Registered: 05/18/02
Posts: 54688
Loc: San Miguel de Allende, Mexico ...
I posted this on Facebook but I liked it enough to share here.

This might be the most controversial thing Iíve posted since I was hacked and blocked from my own Facebook account and had to rebuild my Facebook universe from scratch a couple of months ago.

This weekend was Mexican Independence Day and there was a series of massive and intimate events down here to celebrate. Fantastic and inspiring to be part of it. 

Having said that, the concept of ďnational prideĒ seems incredibly misdirected to me.

I was born north of the border, but I chose to build a life down here 19 years ago next month. I pay taxes in this country and in the US; Iíve been employed here and Iíve employed others; my Spanish is a bit beyond rudimentary depending on whoís evaluating it, but I make the effort. And every day, just as I did when I lived in the states, I try to leave this place better than when I found it. 

Sometimes I fail at that effort.  But I do try again the next day.

As happens during patriotic holidays, Iíve noticed an increase in posts from some of my Mexican friends talking about how some foreigners donít respect Mexican culture and in fact attempt to change what said foreigners have found here into something that resembles what they left.

Often these discussions begin when someone from north of the border is complaining about the middle of the night/early morning fireworks which are common in various celebrations in San MiguelÖ and we so have a lot of celebrations!

And that is when a Mexican national or even a self-loathing gringo 🙂  might pop on and say ďthen I suggest you go back to where you came from. Donít try to change Mexico!Ē

The conversations usually dissipate when a couple of Mexicans jump on and say ďhey, I'm Mexican, and I also hate those fireworks at three in the morning, and they traumatize my dogs.Ē

Some might disagree with me, but I do not view myself as a visitor, anymore than I would view a Mexican neighbor up in San Diego to be a visitor after he has lived and worked there for a couple of decades, does neighborhood watch while his kids go to the same school as my other neighbors. He pays his taxes, he goes through the same depressing dance at the DMV as someone who was born north of the border. He is not a visitor to the United States. It is his home.

Thatís not the controversial part:).

We were talking about national pride and I saw someone ask an Expat/immigrant if they were ďproud to be from the United States.Ē

Itís a question that I donít really understand or relate to. Yeah, I am proud of what the United States has stood for at various points throughout history. Proud of cultural achievements such as the invention of jazz and blues and funk, the tremendous innovations in filmmaking and more. I'm only scratching the surface here.

I am irrationally proud of these things, even though they had absolutely nothing to do with me.

I am not proud of my home countryís many missteps, the need to spill blood and obliterate Native American culture, or our blind worship of the concept of capitalism which allows us to rationalize denying basic healthcare to a huge percentage of our own citizens. And of course, the terrible political manipulations in South America and all over the world, in the name of spreading democracy but are very obviously just effort after effort to satisfy our desire to remain a World power. 

But here is the larger point. We could say similar things about Mexico, both the wonderful and the terrible.  The same goes for Italy and Canada and every country that I know about. 

When it comes to building nations, nobody has a full halo.

If I am to be proud (by association) of the United States for the accomplishments of a Martin Luther King or a Buddy Holly, then I also have to accept by association the awfulness of a jackass like Trump.  All three of us are American citizens. It just doesnít make sense to say ďmy country good, your country bad.Ē Our lives as we know them are the result of accidents of birth. Why was I born on one side of the border, while some of my close friends were born on the other?

I get being *inspired* by the history of a country, the struggles for independence, the heroes who sacrificed everything as they attempted to create a nation that reflected their personal values.

I get that. I donít see it as pride. Because the minute you start feeling proud, you automatically have to also answer for all the schmucks who did everything they could to defeat those heroes, every step of the way.

Iím just a guy who was born in a place. And so are you. You didnít make it happen, itís not an accomplishment. It was dumb luck.

The only thing that matters is how we live our lives and that applies beyond any border that we cross. Wherever we go, there we are. 

Iím not a geneticist, but I'm not sure anyone could make a truly compelling argument that there are more (and lesser) noble bloodlines running throughout history. From what I understand, if you keep going back far enough, our true origin story begins in a country where most of us reading this have never even visited.

Please believe me when I say that Iíve been struggling with this concept since I was a kid, celebrating the Fourth of July. I got the story, itís important and it was inspiring. But it really had nothing to do with me except that Iíve benefited from someone elseís sacrifice, simply due to the accident of my birth.

Here is what I'm proud of: Iím proud of my new friend, who as it turns out can play Brahms. Iím proud of Fran at paprika, who kept a music venue going against all odds throughout Covid, only to rise out of those ashes with the most consistent entertainment venue in San Miguel.  Iím proud of my friends who have overcome addictions and stayed clean for 40 years or longer (and 34 days counts too). Iím proud of my friends who are authors and composers and dreamers who put their money where their mouth is.  Iím proud of people who stand for something. Iím proud of teachers who give it everything theyíve got. I am proud of people who are consistently kind.

Maybe itís me. Iím willing to consider that. Thereís a lot that I love about my home country, and a lot that I dislike. But pride isnít even on my radar when it comes to a nation. Is it on yours?

Coda: the older I get, the clearer it seems to me that ďnationsĒ are simply organized groups of strangers that leaders can whip into a frenzy in the name of patriotism and thus be turned against other nations. And while I know there have been justifiable wars, I am willing to bet the vast majority of these leaders who have pushed their nations into conflict throughout history have had agendas that only a handful of men really understood.

And Iím willing to go a step further and suggest that almost no one at the time would have been proud of those actual agendas, had their true nature ever been revealed.
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#1864659 - 09/19/23 05:19 AM Re: My Thoughts about Patriotism, inspired by Mexican Independence Day [Re: Jazzooo]
pbrowne Offline
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Registered: 06/11/99
Posts: 6309
Loc: Loveland,CO,USA
i've always found that the people of most countries are mostly good and the governments of most countries are mostly bad.

i also think patriotism is exactly the same thing as nationalism - both make about as much sense as pep rallies or high school spirit.
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#1864660 - 09/19/23 06:26 AM Re: My Thoughts about Patriotism, inspired by Mexican Independence Day [Re: pbrowne]
Jazzooo Offline
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Registered: 05/18/02
Posts: 54688
Loc: San Miguel de Allende, Mexico ...
Thatís a really good analogy.
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#1864661 - 09/19/23 10:23 AM Re: My Thoughts about Patriotism, inspired by Mexican Independence Day [Re: Jazzooo]
jimmyrock Offline
Department Head of Redundancy Department Head
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Registered: 12/18/05
Posts: 9138
Loc: America's File Cabinet
that was very good. I like your philosophy " I try to leave this place better than when I found it."
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#1864666 - 09/19/23 12:28 PM Re: My Thoughts about Patriotism, inspired by Mexican Independence Day [Re: jimmyrock]
flatcat Administrator Offline
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Registered: 07/11/01
Posts: 29061
Loc: Westborough, MA, USA
Pat, you are such a good person. I object to the idea that governments are mostly bad. Governments are just tools of leaders who have agendas which might be good or bad. Mostly, governments are just regular people trying to serve the public. Without government, we wouldn't have an internet, we wouldn't have weather forecasts or a James Webb telescope or highways or so few airline crashes. I get the urge to put the hate on government for things that don't work out and there are plenty of those things. But governments aren't inherently good or bad. As always, it's a more complicated picture than that. And honestly, I feel like the idea that government is bad is at the root of a lot of problems in America right now.

But that also leads to another point: governments and countries need maintenance or they will fail, at least democratic ones do. They don't exist in a vaccuum. If individuals don't educate themselves about what's going on, if they don't talk to their representatives, if they don't vote, then they will not have to worry much about the government or country they're from. It will have become something different.

When I come home, I am almost always happy to be back, though this time feels really weird - a topic for another post. Does that mean I'm proud to be American? This is one of those questions that don't make any sense to me because I don't feel proud or not proud. It's like being asked if I'm happy, I just ... don't understand that question at all. I'm just doing my thing. I have happy moments and less happy moments like anyone. The expectation that one is happy all the time seems really ... odd to me. I have it better than most. Is that happy? I don't know.

Am I proud to be American? The United States has a ton of stuff going for it. The culture is very powerful. The people, generally, are pretty generous, in my experience. We do a lot of good things. We have also done (and continue to do) a lot of things I don't agree with. I am terribly worried right now about what is happening.

We are like Lancelot in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. We get a message, we go charging in and slaughter everyone at the wedding only to find out that we didn't understand the context and then we apologize. We're like Dug the dog in Up. Generally good but a little slow.

We also have profound issues at the heart of our history that we steadfastly refuse to confront, and that really bugs me. I don't know what the answer is, but I know what it isn't, and we aren't confronting those issues honestly and compassionately.

Sorry to ramble. I appreciate your point of view Doug. I think you're amazing to be an expat - it's a difficult thing to pull up stakes and go somewhere else. It's complicated and challenging on lots of levels. It gives you a unique and valuable insight into two worlds.
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The internet, and the whole technology sector on which it floats, feels like a giant organ for bullshitteryófor upscaling human access to speech and for amplifying lies. - Ian Bogost

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#1864667 - 09/19/23 12:44 PM Re: My Thoughts about Patriotism, inspired by Mexican Independence Day [Re: flatcat]
pbrowne Offline
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Registered: 06/11/99
Posts: 6309
Loc: Loveland,CO,USA
flat, perhaps i overstated my case. it seems to me governments are run by a very few folks who generally are bought and paid for by large corporations whose sole purpose is to make money.

our government certainly does all sorts of good things for the public and far and away most of the workers are just like you and me.

no one i know thinks war is a good way to solve conflicts but our leaders seem unable to avoid continual overseas forays that always end up disastrously.

So many policy decisions are driven by corporate influence as opposed to what is good for the citizens of our country.

that's what i was driving at in my previous post.



Edited by pbrowne (09/19/23 12:45 PM)
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#1864668 - 09/19/23 12:52 PM Re: My Thoughts about Patriotism, inspired by Mexican Independence Day [Re: pbrowne]
Jazzooo Offline
Loquacious Planeteer


Registered: 05/18/02
Posts: 54688
Loc: San Miguel de Allende, Mexico ...
What an interesting discussion. And yes, I have to agree with flat, but I think in the end Pat was saying the same thing. Itís the leader ship. If you look at the entire government of a country, probably 99% of them are not making policy, but simply keeping the country running. How they do it is the result of the leadership.
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#1864670 - 09/19/23 01:27 PM Re: My Thoughts about Patriotism, inspired by Mexican Independence Day [Re: Jazzooo]
calypso Offline
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Registered: 07/22/05
Posts: 2307
Loc: mid-Missouri
well said, Doug - well written
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#1864672 - 09/19/23 03:30 PM Re: My Thoughts about Patriotism, inspired by Mexican Independence Day [Re: calypso]
flatcat Administrator Offline
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Registered: 07/11/01
Posts: 29061
Loc: Westborough, MA, USA
Pat, totally agree. \:\)
_________________________
The internet, and the whole technology sector on which it floats, feels like a giant organ for bullshitteryófor upscaling human access to speech and for amplifying lies. - Ian Bogost

Professor Truth T. Sweetness says,"Mind your manners!"

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#1864673 - 09/19/23 03:47 PM Re: My Thoughts about Patriotism, inspired by Mexican Independence Day [Re: flatcat]
motown59 Offline
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Registered: 03/01/04
Posts: 17431
Loc: California
A nice read this morningÖand follow up thoughts.
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