Ask most Americans, and they will say they are proud to be Americans. They might not be proud of its current government, but they will say they are proud to be Americans.
But what, exactly, does this mean?
Pride is usually something that is earned by accomplishing a goal: I’m sure we can all think of people who are proud to have graduated college, proud to have earned a promotion at work, proud to have raised good kids, proud to have made a positive difference in someone else’s life, etc.
But what does it mean when someone says he is “proud to be an American” — something he achieved not by accomplishing anything, but simply by the circumstance of being born in America? To some extent, Americans can claim they are “proud to be an American” because they have helped accomplish the goal of creating the nation we see today, which, despite its many flaws, has many good qualities. Nevertheless, do Americans actually think about this when they say they are “proud to be an American,” or are they merely gloating about their nationality — something they did nothing to earn and, indeed, had nothing to do with?
The next time you hear someone say he is “proud to be an American,” ask him what he means. See if he mentions anything that he actually accomplished.