I think everyone should be a patriot of wherever they’re from. I think it’s vital to foster love for your greater community and to cherish that which is great about your culture. It’s not about hating the “other”. It’s about being present to something you may otherwise take for granted.
Fourth of July was always my favorite holiday because it’s summer and my birthday is on the 5th. I was born at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, which was founded on May 11, 1751 by Benjamin Franklin and I imagine that my astrological chart has a lot in common with America’s. We were both born in the same city and practically on the same day. I’ve always felt very deeply connected to America and I love it more than I can say.
I had the most classic American grandmother possible. She was a public school teacher in suburban Pittsburgh, who took us to the Pirates games and baked amazing pies. We celebrated Flag Day and she took us to the fireworks. She told us about how she knitted sweaters for the “boys” on the front in World War I when she was a child. She was the most incredible angel and a patriot.
My Brazilian grandmother was very different. Although also passionately patriotic, she was a Communist. She left my grandfather for a man who was 20 years younger and the head of the longshoreman’s union in Santos, the largest port in Latin America. They were jailed briefly by Brazil’s military dictatorship for sheltering radical Communist organizers in her small apartment.
She did not bake pies. She was an intellectual and a very cool person, albeit chronically depressed. She’d been orphaned at the age of 7 and I don’t think she ever recovered. I think her politics reflected her internal state.
She espoused the kinds of things you hear Antifa saying now and because my mother was raised by this Communist radical, my mother also espoused Antifa talking points – and in turn, so did I for much of my life.
I’ve recently begun to understand that my grandmother’s wounds, as an orphaned child have taken a couple of generations for me to heal in my own lifetime.
Likewise, we may understand Antifa members running riot in our country as very wounded people, some of whom may not heal in this lifetime.
Socialism seemed to make sense to me as a teenager, especially in a country like Brazil, where the middle class is small and there’s a huge gap between the haves and the have-nots. It seemed like a way to correct the tragic and abhorrent social situation.
But in the early 2010s, I saw Socialism being implemented in Brazil and just how punishing this was to the enterprising spirit of hardworking Brazilians and how it only encouraged more corruption.
In one of the last conversations I had with my mother as she lay dying, she laughed, “It took me 50 years to understand that Socialism doesn’t work.”
Brazil and the United States have a lot in common. They’re both continent-sized countries forged in colonialism and slavery. I’ve come to understand that the most important difference between the US and Brazil is the US Constitution.
American Exceptionalism is a result of the Constitution, a system devised to protect our God-given rights from the lower nature of humanity. Hopefully, the Constitution will continue to inform and protect us through this hideous psychological civil war.
To my American friends, everywhere – I hope you’re violating lockdowns and celebrating Independence Day!