On Thursday, I wore an American flag scarf. As I walked to class, I noticed people looking at me like something was wrong with my appearance. I looked at my reflection in my phone screen and saw nothing out of the ordinary.
Then I looked down and realized what people were looking at: my scarf. We are living in a time where America is going through some changes. "Some changes" is actually an understatement.
We are nervous about what is going to happen. From the string of executive orders to the confusing public statements, America seems to be a whole new country. But for some reason, it still looks the same.
People may be surprised to hear that I wore the scarf the rest of the day. But why did I do this after writing an article last week about how you need to take action? The administration has declared war on the career that I will be working in one day. They have also managed to alienate and degrade countless groups. I didn’t vote for this administration so why did I wear the scarf?
The reason is a lot simpler than most people would think: I am an American. I have noticed by talking with friends and classmates that a majority of them think that being an American means supporting the current regime. This is not the case.
I believe that too many people have associated being an American with being in favor of the President’s decisions. This is not true. Being an American means you are a citizen of America. You may not agree with the current administration's decisions but you don’t have to. You have the right to disagree.
I have been a skeptic of patriotism since I started writing. I do think patriotism (and its synonym Nationalism) is not bad entirely. Nationalism/Patriotism can bring people together around a common interest.
But I think patriotism should be more accurately defined of just being proud of your country. To be a real patriot, or a real American for that matter, you have to be willing to critique your country and its leaders. A true American believes in the future of democracy and will act accordingly to preserve it.
A country is not defined by its leader. A country is defined by its citizens. All Americans believe in America, in good times and in bad times. True patriots are not submissive. True patriots fight.
Henry David Thoreau said it best in his essay "Civil Disobedience:" “[The State] is not armed with superior wit or honesty, but with superior physical strength. I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest.”
So why did I wear my American Flag Scarf? It was not to give in to the current administration. It was a statement. I am still an American and will never let that go no matter what my government does.