Truth be told, I’ve never been proud to be American.
I’ve traveled enough to know how privileged we are, and how much we take for granted about our rights and our expected standard of living. I’ve also traveled enough to feel a bit of “American shame” at the way we – to completely overgeneralize – as a nation presume we’re a bit better and better off than at least many other people, if not everyone else.
But I’ve never felt that sense of “American pride.” Maybe because I was raised by hippie parents. I don’t really know.
What I do know is that I felt it this past weekend.
I went to the Women’s March on Washington. It was amazing and uplifting. I’ve heard it described as “defiant and jubilant.” That’s what I experienced. Everyone was warm and friendly. Army personnel and police officers directing traffic were high-fiving. Crowds were waving and cheering from windows and stoops.
When we finally started marching – wherever we could, because there were too many people to actually march – the chanting started. I had a few favorite chants, but the one that’s stuck with me since:
“Tell me what democracy looks like.”
“This is what democracy looks like.”
That’s when it sunk in. This is what democracy looks like. This is what democracy is.
As I marched and chanted – as I exercised my rights, guaranteed to me in the Bill of Rights – I realized that I was proud to be American. I am proud to be an American.
We are lucky to be able to raise our voices. We are lucky to be able to march in protest, and chant and be heard.
It was an outrageously amazing experience, to exercise my rights and be part of this democracy. Good or bad, this is what democracy looks like.
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