When it comes right down to it, young people have a lot on their plate. They are worried about things like college, student loans, paying rent, Facebook and Twitter, the list is endless. How can the average 25-30 year old have time to deal with things like patriotism? Patriotism? Isn’t that for old people?
That seems to be the trending thought. And if that is the case, it does not bode well for America. There are some experts who will say that your brain has not fully developed at that age. Maybe, there is literally a lifetime of change that takes place between 25 and 45. Most young people just don’t pay attention to politics, and usually know just what Yahoo News will tell them about what is going on in the world, but why has being proud to be an American and being proud of one’s country become so unhip?
Really the first and only place one needs to look is the American education system. With schools and universities filled with leftover hippies from the 60’s, it is not hard to figure out where the “America sucks” mentality comes from. Also, couple that with the racist, sexist, homophobic narrative that the mainstream media engages in daily and you have one nasty mix.
Recently, some of my co-workers were asking another co-worker about his impending trip home to India in December. Like the curious Americans we are, they asked about food, holidays, and things of that nature. Through the course of the conversation, they determined that it had to be better than America, because well, America sucks and it is racist blah blah blah, especially with a president like Donald Trump. Did I miss something? Was Donald Trump elected president 7 years ago and that is why America sucks? Where have I been? The ease at which all responsibility and accountability that Barack Obama was relieved of in one sentence was astounding.
So a bit later I asked him, what are his impressions of America? As a new immigrant 15 years ago, was it what he thought it would be? He said yes that he thought America was a good place with plenty of opportunity for all, and that Americans were good people. I asked about the strict class system in India, and he said that yes it was to an extent still in place. I asked about things like free speech and speaking out against the government. He said that yes some free speech was tolerated but that you could still get an unpleasant visit from government officials if your free speech was deemed just a little too free. Funny, all those “America sucks” folks didn’t think to ask those questions. The one question that I did not get to ask those youngsters was, if America sucks why is the line to get in so much longer than the line to get out?
While proud of his Indian heritage, my co-worker seems genuinely proud to be an American as well. One of the most important things that immigrants like him can do is to talk to young people and try to convey to them why they came here, why America is the land of opportunity, and that they should be immensely proud of that. Many immigrants tell as many as they can about the horrors of places like Cuba, Russia or China. Those stories need to be told.
Patriotism is a lot like religion. Sometimes it is the converts that are the strongest advocates.