I am not proud to be an American right now.
I’m ashamed of our president, of our politics in general, of our national consummeristic identity that says if I want it and I can’t buy it then I’ll take it by force.
I’m not without hope, though.
Our history, as a country is about more than its wars and corruption of leadership responsibilities.
For instance, I’m proud of my great grand father, Ed Archer, who staked a claim on land outside of kenna, NM. He didn’t kill anyone to get it. He was just a man who wanted to find a way to live day by day. He lived with wife and children in a humble dugout until an above ground house could be built. He was the kind of man who would re-light the kerosene lantern for his daughter because she said, “Daddy, I can’t see to close my eyes.”
I’m tired of being identified by our leaders whom I, as an individual, seem to have very little control over.
How can those of us who are just trying to live each day in a way that is kind and meaningful, reclaim our stake in this country?
From where I stand, I need to acknowledge that it wasn’t me or my family who took this land away from those who had first rights to it. I had no control over what happened in our country’s infancy. I don’t like it. I don’t like the idea that someone can force a whole people out of their place just because greed and entitlement so dictate. But I can’t change the past.
I can’t change where my great- grandparents raised their family, where my grandparents lived, or where my mother lived when I was born.
So much of a person’s daily life and world views depend on circumstances far beyond an individual’s control.
I’m trying to find a way to say to my international friends that I was born in America, but that does not tell you who I am, what makes me feel proud or what makes me cringe from shame.
I am the great grand daughter of a man who raised sheep and goats on a homestead in New Mexico.
I am the kind of mother who would turn the light back on so my child could see to shut her eyes.
I am the kind of neighbor who makes a cake for the selfless and hardworking woman who lives next door because she did our yard work, without being asked, when we couldn’t do it.
I’m the kind of American who struggles with health and money and relationships just like everyone in every other country I know.
How can I reclaim my own identity and shake off this national shame? How can I show the rest of the world that I extend my heart and my hand even if my country won’t?
I am not proud to be linked with an image of the America our current politely system portrays, or that of a new country that forced it’s way onto land that didn’t belong to them. But I am not without hope that after a diet of crow, I will be able to stand up, extend my hand and say to anyone from anywhere, “Please, come in and let me get you a cup of tea while we put our heads together and work to solve the problems common to every single one of us, no matter where we happen to be born.”