So today is the day Americans choose their president! I’m going to try to write as politically neutral post as possible, but I wanted to address something I’ve been seeing on my newsfeed all afternoon. There are certain times of year when patriotism suddenly peaks: the 4th of July, Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, etc. aaaaaand election day.
Most people who know me know that I am not a particularly patriotic person, so in general I try to ignore these surges in American pride, but there are two things that really get me. “America is the greatest country on earth.” and “We’re #1!”
First of all, who decided that America is the greatest country on earth? Oh yeah, Americans. You know, if anyone ever names themselves the “greatest” anything, it probably means that a) they’re not the greatest and b) they’re really arrogant. Now, I wouldn’t call myself “worldly” by any means, but within my limited experiences outside of America, I’ve seen other countries, and their citizens, doing things so much better than the states does them, from tax and healthcare systems to how safe one feels walking the streets (or you know, leaving their baby out on the street) to their very ideas about patriotism.
In Denmark, you see the Danish flag everywhere, but not in the same way as you see American flags. An American flag most often signifies pride in their country, and goes back to that “we’re #1” feeling that almost always accompanies American patriotism. Danish patriotism is, I guess, a bit softer. Danish flags are used for celebrations that don’t really have anything to do with patriotism at all. They’re used to decorate birthday cakes, and during any and all parties (New Years, Christmas, etc.) They think Denmark is great, but they don’t take it so far as to say they are the best, no questions asked.
I guess what I’m saying is that I think it’s dangerous (yup, dangerous) to believe that you’re the best. If you’re the best, where can you go from there? You can’t be the bester. Saying that America is the number one country on earth is like saying they do everything better than everyone else, and I think this is partly why people over here in Europe tend to roll their eyes at us. How is America going to get out of the dunghole it’s gotten itself into if they still think they’re the bee’s knees? How is denying that we have problems going to help us solve them?
The United States of America is great, and they do a lot of things well. You get free drink refills and candy doesn’t cost as much as a car (and your car doesn’t cost as much as a house), but the US has a lot of work to do before it can even try to proclaim itself as the best country in the world, and it could start by working on humility.