I listened to “This American Life” last weekend.  The show was about American ex-pats living in China (mainland).  The show ended and I found myself feeling deep gratitude that I am a citizen and resident of the United States of America.  Proud, too?  Maybe.  But only a little bit.  For me, patriotism is about gratitude and action.

I love the freedom we have in the United States.  Last week, the Supreme Court issued their rulings about various aspects of the Affordable Care Act, and people were responding.  Some people were celebrating the rulings (or most of them); others were angered by the rulings (or most of them); I was doing a little of both (including being very surprised by were I was agreeing with Justices who are often labeled “conservative” – but that’s fodder for another blog post).  Then I heard the episode of “This American Life,” and realized how grateful I am that I live in a country where we can all publicly react to the decisions of the Supreme Court.

I love the diversity we have in the United States.  I live in Fremont, California, the most diverse city of its size in the United States.  I am president of the Tri-City Interfaith Council, a group working to build “an inclusive society in which people of all traditions respect and appreciate one another.”  I know I am enriched by being exposed to traditions and beliefs and thinking that were unfamiliar to me.

I love the opportunities we have in the United States.  I was recently involved in a discussion on Facebook about “the American Dream” – that part of the American psyche that includes the idea that here, everyone has the opportunity for prosperity and success, and that upward social mobility can achieved through hard work.

Unfortunately, there is great division in the United States, this country I love and for which I am so grateful.  Leaders use polarization to gain and hold on to power – and that polarization is achieved through lies and half-truths and demonization of the “other.”  Bigotry is still rampant and people who are minority (not so much statistically as minority in terms of  influence and power) are not able to fully access the opportunities everyone is supposed to have in the United States.  And our educational system is being stretch so thin by our unwillingness to pay for it (even though we pay tons to incarcerate more people per capita than any other developed nation on earth – but that’s fodder for another blog post). that far too many children are growing up without the tool necessary to access the American Dream.

My kind of patriotism is not about thinking that your country is the greatest in the world.  Patriotism is about being thankful for aspects of your country and then about working hard to make it better.

I think this scene from the new television series “The Newsroom” speaks to this:

By the way, I’m not so keen about the New Your Jets.

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