The United States of Aspiration

It is sometimes assumed that those who would critique their country have no stomach for patriotic displays like the Fourth of July. And to be fair, it is hard to overlook Frederick Douglass’ scathing indictment of American hypocrisy in “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” But perhaps it is in this very tension between the already and the not-yet that true patriotic observance can take place. Neither the rah-rah “We’re #1!” cry of the jingoist nor the sentimental rosy-colored view of the US as the haven of true liberty and freedom, but the deeper patriotism that remembers the best of what we can be, and in love, calls us to be better than we are.