Proud to be from Texas. Proud to live in the greatest city on earth (fill in the name of city). Proud to be white. Proud to be a man, but prouder to be a woman. Proud to be Irish, Black, Hispanic, Polish, Greek, Jewish, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Christian, Hindu, Muslim … whatever, it doesn’t matter.
What makes you proud of an accident of birth? Are you proud to be alive? Human? Proud you aren’t dead of disease, starvation, natural disaster, or war?
I am not proud to be an American. I am glad to be an American, happy that I am free to live in a beautiful place and have a home in this valley. I love the United States. I think it’s fundamentally a great nation which, if we stopped screwing around, would be an even greater one. But proud?
I’m proud of things I’ve written, some things I’ve done, and ashamed of others. I’m proud of what I’ve earned. I’m not proud of the gifts I was given at birth, but I am deeply grateful that I was lucky enough to receive them.
I am proud of my country’s achievements, but ashamed and embarrassed by other things we’ve done. I believe our Constitution is one of the great legal documents. That we so often fail to live up to it saddens me, but at least we had founders who weren’t airheads or mass murderers, a burden other nations bear.
Pride implies you actively participated or contributed to whatever makes you proud. I don’t think being born qualifies. If you exist, you were born. Birth gets you get a ticket to the starting line. A chance to run the race. To breathe. After that, it’s up to you.
So I’m glad to be an American. I’m happy I was born here. Nothing was required of me. If Mom had been Mexican or Turkish? Then I’d be proud to be Turkish or Mexican.
Does this attitude make me unpatriotic? I don’t think so, but you are welcome to think what you like. I believe love of country should be tempered by discrimination, the realization that nations, like people, don’t always do the right thing.
We aren’t special by reason of birth. Being proud of where you were born is meaningless.