I'm quite confused about the concept of being proud of one's country.
You hear it quite often: "I'm proud of being American" and lately, "I'm proud of being Australian".
What does this mean?
I'd have to say, I feel no pride about my nationality. I'm not a proud Australian. Sure, there are things in my life that I'm proud of. But they are things I've worked at, things I've got for myself. I didn't choose to be Australian, I was born here and have yet to raise enough cash to leave. Maybe if I'd fought a hard battle for citizanship I'd be proud of that... but I didn't. It was chance, and what's that to be proud of?
I would find it hard to be proud of my country, since I don't really see anything to be proud of. I see things to be grateful for, but not proud of. I'm grateful that the government here does not have the right to 'legally' kill me. I'm grateful that I have enough to eat, enough room to stretch out, a welfare system to fall back on if things fuck up (including subsidised medical care). But I'm not 'proud' of these things.
I don't feel there is a strong sense of nationalism here. Some people have it, some don't. I don't think there's any one thing that all Australians agree on - though some may disagree with me.
I cannot be proud of the actions of my government. They are supposed to represent us, but their actions don't represent me. I'm ashamed to think the rest of the world might judge me by the actions of the Australian government. Is a liking of your government neccesary to a feeling of national pride?
I don't feel proud of our so-called national values. There is an increasing tendancy here to call things 'unAustralian' - what that means is these things don't fit with the values of those who call them unAustralian. But often unAustralian things are the very things that this country does, while pretending they are against our values. So here's my list of things that are demonstratably Australian, in the present as much as the past, that are called UnAustralian. These are all things practiced by politicians, enshrined in law, and common amongst the people - but often publicly called unAustralian, or hidden behind rightious justifications.
Racism is Australian.
Sexism is Australian.
Homophobia is Australian.
In fact, discrimination of all kinds is Australian.
Jailing children is Australian.
Denying people legal representation is Australian.
Raping the environment is Australian.
Exploiting the third world is Australian.
Lying is Australian.
Banning books is Australian.
Breaking the law is Australian.
Abuse is Australian.
Denying people medical treatment is Australian.
Breaking promises is Australian.
Murder is Australian.
Hypocrasy is Australian.
Unfortunatly, the same thing seems true of the US. Denying freedom of speech, murdering people, incarcerating people without even charging them with a crime, exploiting the third world, raping the environment, discrimination, denying people the right to vote, lying, circumventing the democratic process - all these things are American. The values our countries profess to believe in are contradicted by their actions.
It seems instilling national pride starts in the US at a very young age. Our prime minister wants to instill national pride by banning the burning of the flag, and witholding funding from schools who do not raise the flag and get the students to salute it every day. This seems ridiculous to me - the flag is simply an object. Who is it hurting if I draw a picture of the flag and burn it? Does worshipping the symbol of our country make it a better, fairer country?
So, anyone who is proud of their country, can you answer me this?
Can you be proud of your country if you hate the actions of your government? Can you be proud of your country if the values it says it holds are contradicted by its actions? And if the government lies to you, and your country doesn't live up to its own self-declared values, what exactly are you proud of?
I'd really like to know.