My wife and daughter visited Dublin Ireland earlier this year for an Irish Dancing World Championship and I cannot stop thinking about a recurring comment she heard at street level regarding Americans. Now my interpretation of the comment which shares the title of this essay is my own and may not be the true meaning of the phrase. It is my own.
National identity is brought to the surface of our populace every year with a flag, fireworks and gatherings. We unify behind names of framers, fighters and farmers for one brief day each year and then we move along our separate selfish paths until such moments in our shared history require us to reestablish our national selves. How convenient this is for us, to neatly park it away in garages, living room cabinets and hard drives just to be drawn upon when required by our collective desire to be a nation.
Our young people, drawn to the flag by individual choice, economic necessity or tradition are placed in harms way for a national purpose unknown by most of us. Our trust in our institutions, committees and corporations set the policies to which we sacrifice these young and innocent volunteers.
Life today for many of us is easy, easy enough to choose roads without sacrifice for our youth. These roads have few potholes or stop signs and provide smooth passage to destinations akimbo to our national identity and yet our national identity has become this road, a road crowded with personal agenda’s taken without regard for the sacrifices made by road builders long since buried in the veneers of asphalt beneath our very feet.
It is a road with no end or direction. This is our lot. It is our national definition. We have become a nation without definition or purpose other than profit and losses, winners and losers, brand names and IPO’s and yet we have the most freedom to pursue these things. We have the luxury of racing on these roads without the hassles many other nations experience.
We may be spoiled but we are so very lucky to live under, on and in our flag, for it is the only flag in the history of flags that has allowed so many freedoms to so many people. Embrace it and respect it by understanding just how good we truly have it compared to other flags and peoples. Wake up America and be proud not only for our national success, but for our ability to fail on our own terms when and however we want. We are spoiled.