Patriotism often gets a bad name from its most bombastic exponents. Is it really patriotic to tell other people how to live their lives? Is it really patriotic to proclaim the universal greatness of everything American?
I consider myself a proud American patriot, but I disdain American self-centeredness. Patriotism, I believe, is an appreciation for the many accomplishments of our society and a commitment to improve those areas where we are not at our best. For other societies we can offer a model in our behavior, not in our bombast.
This is why I love the fourth of July. It is a perfect way to celebrate the kind of patriotism that I embrace. July 4 is a holiday for family and friends when we reflect on our nation’s past and look to learn from that past for the future. We eat, drink, play, talk, and plan for the rest of the summer. Most of all, we appreciate our society’s environmental and consumer abundance, hoping that we can all work together to build on these blessings for ourselves, our children, and those who are less fortunate. July 4 encourages the good patriotism that would please our greatest predecessors.