Sunday, July 4, 2010

The 4th




A few (fellow American) people have recently asked me if Costa Rica celebrates July 4th. I understand it could be a simple assumption, considering the United State's empirical pull across the world...but no, as far as I can tell, there were no BBQ's, parades or fireworks in honor of the USA, in this, another country, today. Go figure.

Although, maybe I wouldn't be completely surprised, as I struggle to find an obvious, defined culture here in Costa Rica, between the Hooters, Wendy's, and True Value. Sure, I feel at home, but that wasn't the point, was it? Two of the five classes I'm teaching take place in offices, and my students are employees whose companies have been bought out by American corporations and are now required to learn English. One of these students simply does not want to learn, but will lose his job if he doesn't. Yeah. Not quite as enriching as the other classes I teach in a school with willing learners.

I wish I could say that my heart-strings feel a tug when I hear the US national anthem. I wish I could say that simply seeing the American flag fills me with a proud warmth...but it doesn't. It would be nice, though, wouldn't it? If all the things that our songs, anthems, banners and signs claim to represent were true? Wouldn't it be great if the United States of America were brave, revolutionary and bold?

I know, how dare I expect more of and question my home country?! Why not just sing the songs and wave the flag and pretend that because my white, upper-middle class existence has been cushy, cozy and all too comfortable, that must mean that America is really not so bad.

I was glad to see I'm not alone in my sentiment (or lack thereof) as I read Howard Zinn's "Put Away the Flags" and Matthew Rothschild's "Why I Don't Celebrate the Fourth" in The Progressive today:

We need to assert our allegiance to the human race, and not to any one nation.

- Howard Zinn

American patriotism has also gotten in the way of solving global warming. Many in the United States, which consumes 25 percent of the world’s resources but has just 4 percent of the world’s population, believe we have the God-given right to use up all the resources we can. And there is an all-too-common attitude that we don’t need to listen to any other countries, or the U.N., or obey any international agreements because we’re Americans, and we’re better than everybody else.

- Matthew Rothschild

3 comments:

E Sammon said...

It seems that many people, superliberals and atheists in particular, get this grand satisfaction from taking what the majority believes, loves and values and completely inverting it. Why must all of the answers be on one side of the issue or the other? I think there are a lot of great things about America and I am glad I live here. That doesn't mean that I don't hate a lot of my local politicians (or for that matter some of my national ones), or that I am ignorant to major issues that concern this nation or the abuses we have been involved in.

Black and White are absolutes. Life, from my experience, is lived in the gray.

K.S. said...

Well thought out response, intelligent cousin. I do not, however, get "grand satisfaction" from this. I am simply frustrated and irritated at the outrageous nationalism that pervades our society. I feel as though it gets in the way of questioning our leaders and our motives. I also feel as though it excuses what is in many cases, deplorable behavior.

I understand the gray area and I see it. My main goal here is to at the very least bring to mind the importance of asking questions, rather than blindly accepting what we are told.

There ARE some great things about America...like the Sammon family ;)

E Sammon said...

Haha of course. And I do understand how patriotism is abused by politicians to disguise or advance their real motives...