When the Olympics began this year, as always I planned to watch a few key events. Most notably those centered around particular athletes that I admire and have been keeping up with in the papers: Gabby Douglas, Alison Felix, Clarissa Shields, Sonya Richardson to name a few.
This is because while I like sports in general, I am more of a personality person, and will normally watch a baseball, basketball, football etc. game because I like and admire a particular athlete.
Nevertheless, as the Olympics got on the way I noticed a curious sentiment in myself. The sentiment of patriotism. I was shocked simply because I don’t applaud nor stand for the vast majority of what my country of birth stands for, applauds and agrees with – I don’t agree with the racism, classism, poverty and mass incarceration or the callous disregard for the poor and disadvantaged that’s as American as apple pie. Nor do I believe that a country where less than 1 percent of the population owns over 50 percent of the wealth and 80 percent of the annual income is the greatest country in the world. I’m sorry, but I’m not buying it.
Yet here I was, keeping up with the daily metal count and cheering every time America surpassed China in the number of Gold, Silver, or Bronze metals earned.
Intrigued by my sudden burst of patriotism I began to ask myself where did this intimate bent to chose sides come from? What I call the my side or team is better than your side or team syndrome. Was it nature or nurture?
Something we are born with and something that we learn from the daily doses of indoctrination that every child receives while growing up in a particular society. And more relevant is the question, is this something that we can never completely free ourselves of regardless of how conscious we become?
Now, I am not saying that a mild form of patriotism is itself a bad thing. But I am totally against the zealous, unthinking version that holds everything American as good, and everything and everyone else as bad. This is the foolish embodiment that allows our elected officials to force feed us all types of horse shit, like Iraq had nuclear weapons. While we smile, wave miniature American flags and completely ignore the consensus of the international community. I simply refuse to buy into the American way or the highway mentality that seems so prevalent in much of the country.
As the Olympics progressed, that didn’t stop my heart from racing and blood pressure from shooting through the roof every time an American athlete stepped to the bar.
If self-discovery is truly the greatest discovery of all, while watching the 2012 London Olympics, I learned something new about myself. I discovered that despite everything, I still had some patriotism in me. A surprise even to me.