Tuesday, February 19, 2008



When you say you're proud of your country, what are you saying?

Are you speaking of a city...of Washington D.C.....or are you looking at the millions upon millions of faces who make us who we are?

Your country is today and has always been a government of people. Community-by-community, individual-by-individual, we form civic life around our common vision and elect those that the majority of us agree will best get us as close to the common vision as we can get.

Washington, D.C. does not now..nor has it ever represented America to me.

It's people like Fatima Faisal and Staff Sgt Phillip Trackey from my own community and state who've made me proud.

I'm proud of Chief Oren Lyons and the people of the Onondaga Nation for sharing their lessons of peace and caring about the environment with those from the outer community for so many years.

I'd said I was proud of Kevin Tillman for having taken up his brother Pat's mantle and calling for a change before America becomes just another lost ideal in the dustbin of History.

I was proud one Sunday morning to see former President Clinton standing up for himself and for all of us against the disinformation presented ad nauseum on Fox News.

I was proud to see former President Clinton speaking strongly against the attempts of irresponsible "docu-drama" writers to rewrite [and a national broadcast network to broadcast] fraudulent and slanderous 9/11 history just two months before an election.

I was proud of Al Gore as he took pride in stating his enjoyment at having been a key part of the Clinton-Gore Administration..being proud of the work they did and that he'd helped to get the breakthrough at Kyoto and had worked very hard to make changes in US environmental policy.

I've been proud of the first President for whom I'd ever had the opportunity to cast a vote - Jimmy Carter - and all the compassionate work he has done post-Presidency.

I remember the great swelling of pride in 1980, as I was reaching adulthood, of having seen the Miracle on Ice in Lake Placid...and I remember the great pride it brought to that community..our state..our youth...our nation.

I'm most proud of every soldier who volunteers for duty to our country..even when the assignment is something that is politically controversial. A lot of young men [and some young women] that I saw raised with hope and love in my own community are serving in Iraq as I type these words. I've seen my community pull together in support of our troops, even in the toughest times. It wasn't Washington, D.C. that compelled them to do so. It was in their hearts to do what they've done.

I'm proud of every Boy Scout, Girl Scout, and Scout leader in my community and around this country who, as they become [or assist youth to become] honorable young men and women, also dedicate themselves to civic activities that take them far beyond their own self-interest. [My own son among them].

I'm proud of every man, woman, and child in this country who have joined in the fight against HIV/AIDS. On this particular day, we even see activist Bob Geldof praising our nation and our President for what we've done...and we shouldn't forget it:

Mr. Geldof praised Mr. Bush for his work in delivering billions to fight disease and poverty in Africa, and blasted the U.S. press for ignoring the achievement.

Mr. Bush, said Mr. Geldof, "has done more than any other president so far."

"This is the triumph of American policy really," he said. "It was probably unexpected of the man. It was expected of the nation, but not of the man, but both rose to the occasion."

I'm proud of every man and woman who'll stand up proudly and unapologetically for who they are when they happen to deeply love someone who shares the same gender.


For me, to be proud was to have supported a leader who came closest to my vision of justice in a society that has misunderstood the true meaning of justice for far too long.

I'm with Paul Hewson, otherwise known as U2 rock-star Bono, with these words he'd spoken at a 2006 prayer breakfast in Washington, D.C.:

...this is a town - Washington - that knows something of division.

But the reason I am here, and the reason I keep coming back to Washington, is because this is a town that is proving it can come together on behalf of what the scriptures call the least of these.

This is not a Republican idea. It is not a Democratic idea. It is not even, with all due respect, an American idea. Nor it is unique to any one faith.

'Do to others as you would have them do to you' (Luke 6:30). Jesus says that.

'Righteousness is this: that one should...give away wealth out of love for him to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and the beggars and for the emancipation of the captives.' The Koran says that (2.177).

Thus sayeth the Lord: 'Bring the homeless poor into the house, when you see the naked, cover him, then your light will break out like the dawn and your recovery will speedily spring fourth, then your Lord will be your rear guard.' The Jewish scripture says that. Isaiah 58 again.

That is a powerful incentive: 'The Lord will watch your back.' Sounds like a good deal to me, right now.

A number of years ago, I met a wise man who changed my life. In countless ways, large and small, I was always seeking the Lord's blessing. I was saying, you know, I have a new song, look after it…. I have a family, please look after them…. I have this crazy idea...

And this wise man said: stop.

He said, stop asking God to bless what you're doing.

Get involved in what God is doing - because it's already blessed.

Well, God, as I said, is with the poor. That, I believe, is what God is doing.

And that is what he's calling us to do.

The leader I'd supported, John Edwards, had the greatest caring for the kind of justice, attainable through the rule of law, that would and could have ended Poverty through a common caring and long-standing commitment and effort. Our nation never seems to have understood the vision because no leader's never been quite brave enough to make it the center of a Presidential campaign as John Edwards did. Some have called it foolish. I call it true love for our country which, in the end, is given a face one person at a time..person-by-beautiful-person.

I've been proud of this country in so many ways...through all of my days...even on the darkest days.

I think Michelle Obama misspoke when she made it seem as if she was aware of her pride for the first time since reaching adulthood because of the [understandable] inspiration she's derived from her husband's 2008 campaign. A Boston.com blog has called it "Pride in the name of self-love". I sincerely doubt that Mrs. Obama meant it that way [see Mrs. Obama video], yet Mrs. McCain [see Mrs. McCain video]took full political advantage of what I'm certain many will see as a gaffe from the potential First Lady Michelle Obama. I always regret when someone's words are taken out of context before the person has an opportunity to expand on the intended meaning.

John Edwards, the leader I'd most admired and for whom I was most proud because of his message, his intent, and his commitment is out of this Presidential race now. His message reminded me of this quote by the great social activistCaesar Chavez about the kind of pride which cannot be taken from the once-humiliated:

Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours."

I can't say that the pride I've had, in so many ways, for this country is new-found and I can't say I feel it swelling in the present because of any one particular candidate who's still in the running. Pride has to be about more than just that.

I suspect we'll see clarity from Michelle Obama on what pride means to her very soon. I hope MSM will give her every benefit of doubt.


- More on Poverty by Bono here at an older Iddybud post.


Jolly Roger said...

Blind nationalism (the Chimpleton version of "pride") almost always has exceedingly unpleasant consequences for the nation that finds itself caught up in it. I'm proud of each and every American that steps up to try to correct what is wrong with this country and celebrates what is right with it. It is those people who drive us forward and make America the kind of place that so many have risked so much to be a part of.

Kevin Hayden said...

Oh, I've been proud of my country a couple of times in 55 years. But most of the time, I'm just glad when individual Americans do good. Not proud, but glad. After all, pride suggests we are taking some ownership of an achievement and I see people all over the globe doing good stuff.

Our country demonstrated it was critical to the defeat of Naziism. I was proud of the space pioneering it did. But most other advances struck me as nothing others elsewhere hadn't done previously. So I consider myself as a planetary citizen and don't really get into the nationalism thing.

If I was a black woman, I could certainly see a reason one would find very little rationale to feel any faith that 'the country' as a whole was doing something to be proud of.

As it is, she clarified her point. And the support her husband has gotten - even now - would be achievable by very few Black Americans. If they don't 'sound Black', aren't 'too dark', aren't women, don't sound too liberal, etc, and can give a good speech, then maybe....

So I get what her point was and I think it's over-parsing when we require candidates and their wives to get every sentence just perfect.

The rightwingers jump at the tiniest most inconsequential of so-called imperfections.

Jude Nagurney Camwell said...

Jolly and Kevin,

You are both very wise in your thoughts here. I think that the use of the word "pride" should be used with great caution. When I choose the word, it's generally because I find that I have a personal stake in the venture that caused the feeling. My experience is the only song I know as truth. Michelle Obama is singing her song, and anyone who'd seek to pour their own judgments into her vessel aren't singing a song that's true.

Jude Nagurney Camwell said...

Let's examine our personal pride and intelligent patriotism as we recall the words of Mehrzad Boroujerdi, Associate Professor of Political Science at the Maxwell School, Syracuse University, written in Spring, 2002, as the dust from 9/11 was still settling and we had not yet attacked or occupied Iraq:


"...the twin towers of paranoia and patriotism — coupled with Americans’ lack of knowledge and lazy prejudices about the Arab/Islamic world — are hindering any move beyond the politically expedient incrimination. While a disconcerted American public is rather reluctant, under the present circumstances, to acknowledge that its country’s foreign policy may have contributed in some way, shape, or form to the recent tragedies, the fact remains that the United States has a very serious image problem in the Middle East and the Islamic world at large. At best, America is perceived as a benign, yet clumsy, elephant in a china shop and at worst as an imperial power who for more than half a century has been guilty of depredations, double standards, hauteur, interventions, sanctions, strong-arm tactics, and support of ruthless dictators. The former view leads to anodyne dinner-table jokes or coffeehouse resentments while the latter inflames the lethal wrath of leftist, nationalist, and religious militants. In short, America’s self-congratulatory perception of itself is in sharp contrast to the view which holds it to be colossally responsible for the alleys of discontent, the valleys of despair, and the mountains of disdain permeating certain quarters of the Arab/Islamic world."

"The events of September 11, 2001 will not go down in the annals of history as the tragic inauguration of a fundamentally “transformed world.” Once the present ambience of grief, reprisal, and sympathy dissipate, we will realize that the vista of the future is still polluted with the dirty linen of yesteryear and the repulsive problems of today. The Middle East as a region and Islam as a religion will still be in the throes of a severe and multi-faceted identity crisis. Implacable enmity, vitriolic denunciations, and revanchist designs will in all likelihood remain the mantra of those made marginalized by the mutilated modernity presently reigning supreme in the Muslim world."

"In the interim, the U.S. government will not abandon a multitude of policies that have alienated a good number of people in the Islamic world."