Do you remember when you were younger, and you’d screw something up? You’d break a candle, or draw on the wall with marker, or pull a thread out of your sweater until it unravels. Do you remember the look on your mom’s face? The way her eyes would be hard, with no glints of pleasure. She was disappointed. And though she still loved you, she was not proud of you in that moment.
And I think that that is one of the most important things that humans strive for. We can’t really explain our need to please others, our odd reliance on people’s opinions of us. It can be a hinderance at times, when there is nothing we can do but accept an ill impression. But I think that our ability to bring happiness to others simply by being the best versions of ourselves we can be is one of the best qualities of our flawed species.
People say that pride is a bad thing. But pride is simply deriving pleasure from yours or someone else’s accomplishments. (No really, look it up.) That isn’t so bad, in fact, I would argue that’s a good thing! Being happy when you or someone you know does something right? That’s great, healthy even! When we as individuals aspire to bring happiness to others, what we really want is we want those close to us to be proud. All people’s lives, they work to make their parents proud, to make their teachers proud, to make their friends, spouse, and children proud. One of the best things to hear is “I’m proud of you”.
And as I mentioned before, pride is not the same as love. You can have one without the other. My mom doesn’t have to be proud of me to love me-that’s why love is unconditional.
So hear me when I say this:
I am not proud of my country right now. In the eyes of the world and, perhaps more importantly, in the eyes of history, we are making a big mistake. And I know that inside of the country, people are working to undo the mistake that has been made. I am proud of them. But our government and our president speak for the country, and I am not proud of what they are saying.
Our country was founded on the belief that we will welcome all. We are a place of freedom, of equality. It is written in our Constitution, on the base of the Statue of Liberty, in our anthem. With the new “Muslim Ban”, signed on Friday and effective immediately, we are losing ourselves. Restricting entry from refugees and immigrants from seven middle-eastern Muslim countries? That is neither free nor equal.
The plan is to make America great again? Well this is what makes us great: people. Opportunity. Welcoming.
I am not proud of my country. That does not mean I do not love my country. I still believe that America is good, that being here is the best place in the world I could be, and that we have come farther as a nation than some ever expected we would.
But right now, we are moving backwards. We are pulling on a thread, and if we don’t stop, everything will unravel. I don’t want us to be the villains in my grandchildren’s history books. I want to be proud of my country, and I want the Americans of the future to be proud of us.
So let’s stop pulling on the threads. Be the country I know we can be, the country that I love.