On the 4th of July: What is pride in country?

omaha_beach_01My feed today has lots of posts expressing pride in being American. I don’t share it. I am grateful to live in a country that affords me comfort and relative security. But I owe almost all of my good fortune to those who came before me: my parents, their wealth and values; their parents, who provided for them; the context in which I have lived – neighborhood, community, schools, employers and clients, governments.

Pride is what I feel in accomplishment – my hand in my grown children, my efforts in my relationships, volunteer projects and professional contributions. My gifts to America are infinitesimal.

Pride in identity is dangerous. Nothing wrong with its light side (“I feel good about my people”; “I love the Nats”), but it easily descends into darkness: My view is right; my beliefs are superior; my tribe is better. The justification for violence is “We are better” – at root, “I am separate.”

I take the opportunity not to be proud but grateful for all who came before me, and I declare to build on their legacy, to pay it forward. And I am grateful to pay taxes.

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