Happy Birthday USA!

I am very proud to be an American on the day we celebrate the 240th birthday of the United States of America.

This statement is not uncomplicated.

The United States of America is a great country, full of prosperity and opportunity. Yet, our prosperity and opportunity aren’t universally shared by all of our citizens and residents.

The United States of America is a country of great diversity. Yet, we have a troubled history (and current reality) of racism and intolerance.

The United States of America has done a great deal of good in the world. Yet, we have also pursued our own agenda at a great cost to some people in other parts of the world.

Simply put, the United States isn’t perfect. However, no country is. Like any country, we have our fair share of problems, but we are a great people who are capable of fixing them.

Today, we should celebrate all the wonderful things that make our country a great place. There are many to celebrate.

I am particularly proud of the diversity of what it means to be an American. America is not a monoculture. Our culture is inclusive of all of the different people who make America their home. For example, my wife is from Vietnam; yet, the culture she brings from her home country is just as much a part of America as apple pie. Our culture is not fixed; it grows and expands as new voices bring new ideas and traditions.

However, we should also acknowledge our faults and shortcomings. There is no shame in admitting our weaknesses. Patriotism can be unconditional, but it should never be blind. We should love our country while admitting that we aren’t always right. When we do so, we are one step closer to correcting our faults and improving ourselves.

Further, our love for our country doesn’t need to be exclusive. There are many wonderful people and places in this world. We should never take an “us vs. them” approach to our patriotism. Patriotism should mean loving the people that we are, but also having deep respect and love for the rest of the world as well. We’re all in this one together.

So, while the United States of America is far from the only wonderful place in the world and far from perfect, it’s my home and I love it. Happy birthday America!

1280px-Flag_of_the_United_States

This post was originally published on July 4, 2015. It has been tweaked and updated for the new year, but the core is largely unchanged.