Pride, July 4, and Nationality
Today is July 4, the day when many Americans blare out their pride of being American. And as always on this days, I ask myself, why on earth? In fact, this pride on nationality and one’s own country is something interesting: I ask myself why Americans, like Russians and French, are always so proud of their country? I would not the least think about in a similar way of my being Austrian. Proud of an artificial construct called country? Furthermore, in recent times there is not much to be proud of in America (PRISM and here, drone killings, …). But it is not at least better in Austria, or in Japan, or anywhere else.
Don’t get me wrong, there are many things one can be proud of that came from America. The history of America is rich on people who fought for their rights, who stepped up for others. But does this allow us to be proud now? It should be a reminder to do similar things now, when it is necessary? Who in the American government or political landscape stepped up to speak up for Assange or Snowden?
Historical facts don’t create reason for pride, only for shame not to follow in the steps of the forefathers.
So where does this sickness (yes, I think it is a sickness) of most big countries and their inhabitants come from? Russian would kill you when you criticize Russia, French will spit on you. Austrians? Most Austrians would join in in bashing Austria and telling how bad it is.
Do we need pride for the country where we carry a passport? What does it mean to carry the nationality of a country? I don’t feel myself as being Austrian. If at all, I feel my self as “one coming from the area around Vienna”. Many times I felt myself ashamed carrying an Austrian passport: Haider’s stupid anti-Slovenian shows, the long ignorance of our Jewish heritage, just to name a few. I don’t be proud for the fact that Mozart was an Austrian. Why should I?
Historical facts don’t create reason for pride, only for shame not to follow in the steps of the forefathers. And some countries seem to be more prone to forget this. Let us all be reminded on this day, that improvements do not come from being proud, improvements come from self-critic and awareness of one’s own shortcomings. Pride is contrary to this.