Why Great?

I am no political analyst, truth be told I am not even a very well informed individual when it comes to politics in general. The whole mess tends to confound and confusticate me.

I am an “American” in that I live, and was born, in the United States. As were my brother and sister. So was my father. But not my mother. She was born and raised in Germany, emigrated to Canada with her father when she was 17, then moved to the U.S. to marry the man that would be my father. She never went back to Germany, ceased speaking the language, became an American citizen, raised us three, went to night school to better learn a trade and worked hard as a single mother after my father left. She remarried, lived the remainder of her life here, and a couple years ago died of cancer in a hospice center with almost nothing to her name.

I have never been to Germany; never been to Europe in fact, but would love to. I have however, traveled abroad and spent significant time in other countries, and as such have had wonderful experiences exploring other lands and cultures. I have traveled extensively through North America and can attest that it is a wonderful place… for many reasons. But I have trouble with the idea of “greatness”, particularly when it is used the way it so often is in the political realm.

“America is the greatest country on earth!” exclaim so many aspiring American politicians (or their supporters, such as at the recent DNC), and so often I cannot help but wonder what they really mean by that. If they truly mean anything at all. Even worse, the chanting and madness at the recent RNC of this most current variation on that theme, “Make America great again” is equally, if not much more, troubling to me.

On the one hand I expect that too often it is not really “meant” to be much more than cheer generating, persuasionist propaganda. A rallying cry if you will. Like eliciting the cheers of sports fans; just whipping up support for the home team.

On the other hand, it is in truth, blatant Naaationalism (the bleating of the masses…) and as such, strikes me as potentially dangerous.

Now, again, I am no great political thinker. Just a guy with opinions, a laptop, and an internet connection (which I acknowledge is trouble enough itself). I just think that with the way the world is spinning, more flag waving, and self-aggrandizing, and isolationist rhetoric is really not the best course of action. Expounding on how “great” America is (or should be) smacks far too much of suggesting how less great everywhere else is. Not only insulting, in many ways, but also really very dependent on one’s sense of perspective.

I am not suggesting that people should not have a certain love for, or pride in, the place they live. Rather I am trying to express (poorly perhaps) why it concerns me when such expressions become overly exclusionary.

Example:

US: “America is a really great place and I love living here.”

Them: “Yeah Gondwanaland is really great too, you should come visit.”

VS.

US: “America is the greatest country on earth!”

Them: …

Or, even worse…

US: “America is the greatest country on earth!”

Them: “Screw you, Gondwanaland is the greatest!”

Whereupon things begin to spiral off into more difficult situations.

I am really not trying to sound subversive. I just terribly distrust exclusionary speech and action. I do not see how it is in anyway useful or beneficial, and when there is really a need to focus on working together (many needs these days…), such language and behavior, regardless of who is saying it or how graceful they might act or sound, is nothing more than counter-productive… at the least.

Anyway. Pardon my rambling, I know it is less than great.