It’s hard to learn about history and not feel anything in your heart about your own country. In fact I did not choose to be born here—I could have been born anyone, to any country. But I was born here, in the United States. As children of all counties, it is prevalent to indoctrinate only the best of ones country. For children know and comprehend very little of worldly truth and are the softest clay to be impressed upon. Digging through my memory of childhood I remember saying our pledge of allegiance every morning of school. I know we were made to pick idyllic characters from American history to “research” and deliver our findings to our classmates. Nothing really varied from this general idea through out basic domestic education–simply better “research” and the use of a thesaurus.
Having experienced higher education for many years now, I’m extremely mixed and confused about my national identity. For all intents and purposes I’ve never claimed anything other than indifference and at times stupidity on the subject of my country’s politics and world presence. But in my heart I know that is not the case. I believe everyone has a seeded relationship to their nation in their heart. It doesn’t have to be a warm fuzzy one, it can be one of contempt…but a feeling is there. I’ve studied so much history, so so much, of many different parts of the world, some more in-depth than others. It’s the times when I learn of what my country has done that I am at a loss. And why do I say MY country? I personally am not responsible for the actions of the government of this country. I certainly should not sustain any weight on my shoulders of past, present, and future events beyond my control. And yet I do.
I feel guilty, for this list I need to get off my chest: The beautiful Native Americans—a story that has cracked my heart and caused me shame. The kidnapping of Africans who became indentured servants with sub-human status. The attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the name of war. The imperialization of Cuba and the Philippines. The domestic Chinese-American prison camps. I know there are many reasons that could be told to me in order to show me these were necessary. That this country is one of integrity and “what would you rather have us do? Let the Japanese invade? Let the Indians scalp our wives and children? Those Africans were given compensation for selling us their tribesmen”. The answer is—I don’t know.
I don’t know why I personally feel heartache at these events. I have no clue. And indeed what if this historical government had not acted as it did, would we be speaking German? Would the land be less cultivated and commercialized? Maybe the U.S. would be of 3rd world categorization. Maybe I would feel a definite feeling about where I live. Or maybe I would have the chance to just not know any better.