It’s fair to say that America is a patriotic country; the chants “U.S.A .U.S.A.” punctuate most sporting events, yet whether the pride is for the abstract ideal of the country or everyone and everything in it is another question.
To myself, as an outsider it seems that half the population see the US as a country of one, and the pursuit of happiness should not extend past yourself. This individualism seems long engrained within society possibly due to the hyper-capitalist age with spending geared around what will benefit me and only me. Yet this attitude comes at the expense of a sense of community and the development of a truly social conscience. Robert Putnam in his book, Bowling Alone sees the dissolution of trust and by extension the vanishing of communities due to the atomised lifestyles we are living.
The blubbing and boohooing surrounding tax increases, a threat so viciously reported, one would be led to believe it relieved itself on the Constitution (some might say it has, but they deserve to be patted on the head and left alone). Contrary to what some people may believe, higher taxes can BENEFIT you, the uses are endless: schools, hospitals, prisons, the arts, space exploration and so on. They don’t get funnelled into a secret project to create a tunnel from Mexico into Texas allowing people to come into the country and steal your guns. No, the money is used to help you or others. But that is the killer part to the sentence. Others. Ah yes, the self-interested part of the country just couldn’t bear to see a struggling single mother have a slightly easier time of it; don’t they know you want to get a new TV this year? I mean the old one has lost its new TV smell.
Yet those who bemoan taxation are the very people who claim to love their country. Just like in any relationship, to love is to share, so please do not get your knickers in a twist over the pitiful rate of taxation that has to be paid. Take one look at any of the Scandinavian countries and you will find some of the best literacy rates, the best healthcare in short, amongst the best quality of life in the entire world and their tax rates can be around 60%, a number that is unthinkable to some Americans.
Some might say that being American is to be free from government interference, and the lack of restrictions on the way you live your life. But that position is one that is built on shoddy foundations: why do those people allow the creeping tentacles of shady companies to slowly close around their everyday lives yet distrust the publically accountable government? Other than citing people who lived in a different age, are there any real reasons for hating taxation? In my opinion (one that is very rarely incorrect), man is a social animal, and this society extends to the very corner of the kingdom and beyond. Whilst it might be irksome to lose some of your paycheck every month, just think of the public benefits it will generate. One that no number of TVs can bring.
The idea of patriotism not following words with actions is lamentable yet wholly unsurprising as self-interest has been one of the backbones of any society since time immemorial. Yes, this is an act of socialism but what is wrong with that? Why is looking after your fellow person such an alien concept? The pervasive growth in belief in the United State of One needs to be addressed; the folly of self-interested behaviour has to be challenged. In short, patriotism can only be truly achieved by gaining a social conscience.