Growing up, I don’t think I cared much about patriotism or America in any real way. I got sentimental when “God Bless the USA” came on the radio after 9/11, but I was in middle school, and I was more preoccupied with how to be cool.
However, I am a bit of rebel, and if everybody loves one thing, I’m determined to love its opposite. So when I went to Greece for the first time at age 16, I began to be actively anti-patriotic. Greece had such history! The United States was such a baby! Then I got theological–if we are citizens of another kingdom, then why are people so adamant about their identities as Americans?
I’ve matured since then. While I still believe we are an infant nation, and Christians shouldn’t cling to their identity as Americans, I’m definitely no longer anti-patriotic. I cheer for America during sporting events (except when USA played Portugal in the World Cup, because, well, Christiano Ronaldo is more important than national loyalty). I genuinely love American decadence. Why eat an Oreo when it could be deep fried, covered in powdered sugar, and slathered in whipped cream? That is so specifically American–wasteful and delicious–and some weird part of my heart is so proud.
There are a lot of things about the United States that I find ridiculous, and I think that’s healthy. But we’re also a country that values exploration and pioneering, we interact with other countries in a strange blend of imperialism but with a compassionate heart, we celebrate and take joy and never stop working toward improving ourselves.
I guess I’m a patriot. I think the United States of America is a hot mess, but I’m happy to be a part of that mess. When I move to Greece next year, I will love and enjoy their culture. But I’ll happily remind people that I’m an American (as if they will be able to forget, since I plan to wear a Hawaiian shirt and camera at all times)!
Happy 4th of July!