independence afterthoughts

question: if you had a friend, who was responsible for all sorts of tragedies on others - discrimination, murder, indifference, theft, genocide - and whose parents raped and denigrated your mother, stole and continue to rob her naked....

would you honor their birthday invitation?

that is how I've been feeling most of today, July 5th, after yesterday's July 4th - the United States' Independence day - the day we celebrate the nation's birth. Yesterday, my immediate family and I had a small celebration - the standard fare - a small cookout followed by watching fireworks from our rooftop interspersed with random television reruns. It wasn't as big as how we usually celebrate this day: several invited and uninvited guest to be followed by hours and hours of cleanup. Meaning that today, I was alert enough to think of yesterday's events and why, indeed, I really celebrated on the 4th.

To say that I have not, nor the world has not gained much from the US since its independence would be a huge lie. But I can't help but witness the bad that comes with the good. Especially as of late with the Iraqi crisis - a modern take on the brutality of Western colonialism - I have become disillusioned with patriotism as portrayed in the US. That is a patriotism that remains unswervingly pro-American without respect for the sovereignty and dignity of other nations.

As the nations continues to gorge holidays meats and desserts and pop the last of its firecrackers, I can't help but wonder what other nations, those under our thumb - particularly Iraq - must feel about the birth of the United States of America and its subsequent rise to global dominance. Independence Day no longer excites me as it used to. Actually, its quite sobering...

Empathy is a painful thing.

12 comments:

  1. Parakeet said...:

    Firrrrrrrrst!...I know what u mean but hey if the world chooses to turn a blind eye except Al'Queada of cos, what can the rest of we mortals do?

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  1. Standtall said...:

    I felt something close to this on our Democracy day in Nigeria cos all I could see was corruption, huger, unemployment etc.

  1. Muse said...:

    finally! a Nigerian whose heart bleeds for 9ja! About the US, I'm almost glad its fortunes are dwindling.

  1. Jaja said...:

    Very thoughtful post.

  1. SOLOMONSYDELLE said...:

    I understand what you are saying, but despite America's flaws, and there are many, I have to personally state that this country has some of the most incredible ideals on this planet. I'm not talking about the nonsense we are fed via the media and pop culture. I am talking about the ideals upon which Americans are fed and have been fed for centuries (well just about 2).

    The idea that any man or woman can apply themselves and excel regardless of origin, color, sex is a novel one when you think about world history. Now, of course, America is not perfect and in many cases there is a large degree (and has been) of racism, sexism, classicism, and homosexuality, but the system this country stands upon ensures that change will come sooner than later.

    There are clear problems in America and clear problems with the foreign diplomatic choices that certain administrations have made as well as the domestic agendas that have been applied, but, despite this and so many other problems, I look at America as an example of how to do things right and how to do things wrong. That in itself is an accomplishment and I wish the entire world and its people the opportunity to live in a country where they can create and define their own destiny without having to be white, male, heterosexual and/or rich. America is struggling to get there and hopefully someday, everyone will get there.

    Nevertheless, I see where you are coming from. I hope all is well with you and yours.

  1. nneoma said...:

    @parakeet - iraq and related is not the first of these ills, though. there is a long history of abuse of non-americans.

    @blgoville idol - got the message

    @standtall - i hear you.

    @muse - thanks. i still desire the best for America, even though i have major qualms about the direction its heading.

  1. nneoma said...:

    @jaja - thanks and thanks for stopping by

    @SSD - thanks for your response. i appreciate the balance you bring to the discussion. i agree that some of the principles that america was built on and continues to aspire to are much needed everywhere and serve as an excellent example. however, its hard to see this when America demands equality amongst its citizens, but does not extend that privilege to those outside its borders. there is a very american ideal that the life of an american is worth far more than that of a non-american. its the kind of pride that is dangerous for a country with so much clout in the international scene.

  1. anonymaus said...:

    Nneoma
    The way you phrased the question "if you had a friend..." is loaded, many right thinking people would decline the birthday invitation.

    You say you have become disillusioned with the unswerving patriotism as it is portrayed in America. I have yet to see any other country be it influential or otherwise, portray nationalism in any other way. At one time or another many nations have invaded other people and treated the subjected peoples in a manner that was to the displeasure of the locals. Examples being the Chinese in Xinjian, the Italians in Ethiopia, the British in India, the Soviets in Eastern Europe etc.

    At least, one can say that dissent is somewhat tolerated in America, which is more than what occurs in some other countries. People are fallible, and when you invade or conquer a subject people, being arrogant and insensitive go hand-in-hand with being in control, or else you won't last long (it's partly a defensive measure).

    I've only heard radio programmes about Iraqis view of America. Iraq's population is approaching 30 million people (if not more by now). So with each of the roughly 30 million, you will get 30 million different opinions based on personal experience of what they have seen or encountered. From what I can gather the only thing Iraqis agree on is that they want the Americans to leave. At one end of the spectrum of views,some want an immediate departure and others want America to leave only after they have sorted out the problem they have created.

    From what I can gather with America, even when unspeakable horrors are being perpetuated in the name of their country (or war effort). There is enough freedom of thought for someone to question such acts, which isn't always the way with other countries. Ideally, no one wants any outsider to rule them, but if you must be a subject people, it's better to be ruled by a society that does raise questions, as opposed to the general populace just swallowing the propaganda the establishment feed to them.

    Well, that's my view anyway.

  1. SOLOMONSYDELLE said...:

    Hey Nneoma, thanks for raising this topic in such a classy manner. I wish more Americans (regardless of their heritage or generational status) would begin to talk frankly about the issues you raised in this post. But, that day will eventually come.

    Nevertheless, I want to touch on a point you made in reaction to my initial comment -
    "there is a very american ideal that the life of an american is worth far more than that of a non-american. its the kind of pride that is dangerous for a country with so much clout in the international scene."

    While I understand what you are saying, I would like to stress that for every government, the life of a constituent should be more important than the life of a non-constituent (i.e. citizen). I know that sounds cold and callous, but it is the way nationalism, and the international system every country strives to create/join, must depend on. If not, there would be no need for territorial boundaries and unique nation states. And until that day comes, this is what we are stuck with. I am simply being practical.

    One could argue that the problem isn't that the American government or people pay too much attention to their people and issues, but that more countries don't do the same. Think about it, any reasonably good government is tasked with taking care of the needs of its people whether at home or abroad. Nigeria, for instance, should be championing for the rights of Nigerians wherever they are regardless of the circumstance. Nigerians should not be in jails in Saudi Arabia or anywhere else. They should be sent home to Nigeria to face justice if they commit crimes anywhere. Same as Nigerians who face injustices abroad, they should be assured that their home government will fight tooth and nail to ensure that they receive justice. That same government should do everything they can to protect and care for the needs of its citizens within its territory. Imagine if Nigeria and other countries did that, we wouldn't notice whether America is only looking out for its citizens because everyone would be doing the same thing thus providing measurable protection to as many as possible.

    Now, none of this changes the fact that Americans, like any other group of people are global citizens and must try to protect people wherever they might be. That is the responsibility of every human being. After all, we need each other to survive and, 'no man is an island'. But, I personally have a hard time criticizing America for protecting its own and or its own interests even when it might be to the detriment of others. I can only encourage a different approach tries to balance personal/national interests with an outlook that will help push all of humanity forward. I feel that if Nigeria, or any other nation, was as organized and powerful as the U.S., they would do the same and face the same criticisms to some extent.

    But, until the US, China, Russia and others realize that unilateral politics will no longer fly... Anyway, just wanted to throw this additional point into the mix. take care.

  1. ...insightful post nneoma, as usual...i definitely related to your thoughts...

  1. anonymaus said...:

    I was thinking about what you said and what SolomonSydelle said also. I have to say I came across an article that reinforces SolomonSydelle's point by virtue of a true story.

    Here's the link: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4176/is_20040820/ai_n14584350

    So you see, the fact that America goes out of it's way for it's citizens is something to be cherished. As for Nigeria, well you can draw your own conclusions.