Patriotism. The pride felt for one’s flag, one’s people, one’s national identity and one’s overriding ideology. It is something that is felt, deeply, even if not on show overtly.
At times, however, the love of country can reveal itself in full force. Moments of national victory, be it in sporting or political combat, tops the list of overt expressions of national pride. Chants of national jubilation unite citizens of differing backgrounds, different beliefs. In that moment, all are one.
At others, one’s sense of national identity is felt most vividly when among others of another nation. Whether at home or out in the world, immersion into another national identity can make clear unique elements of one’s nation. Its voice, its values, its vision of the future. All are amplified to oneself (and often others) when among others of a different flag.
To stand beside one’s flag with hand on heart, expressing solidarity in spirit, is something in which every national should feel confidence and pride. Rarely in one’s lifetime is this feeling of connection to national identity ever challenged.
Rarely does one feel a shame in revealing their flag, be it through accent or actions.
And yet, sadly, these moments can happen. A single event, a single signature engraving one moment in time, can leave literally millions in shock, their feeling of pride of flag shattered, while people of other nations look on shaken, their respect for a once celebrated flag shredded.
Such was the case on January 28th when, with the stroke of a pen, the land of the free shut its doors. And for millions across the nation and world, shut its heart. The travel ban imposed by recently elected President Trump under Executive Order immediately tore families apart, openly rejecting people, principle and the promise of a nation once known for the possibility of dreams being realised. Employers and educators scrambled to secure the safe return to the United States of valuable and valued people under their guard. Students, scholars, staff alike were now at risk of being locked out, indefinitely. Border officials and boarding gates across the world raced to understand what exactly the new ruling meant for those travelling. Law abiding, legally registered American citizens suddenly felt rejected from their adopted home.
Painfully, citizens once celebrating their allegiance to their flag felt shame, deep shame, at the actions of their elected leaders. The threats of the newly elected President were being acted upon, the ripples of fear reaching far and wide. Even if, as the new administration argues, only a few are impacted by this act of intended national protection, the impact on national psyche will and has hit millions. Love, trust and pride of flag – gone.
Within minutes o the Executive Order being signed, airports filled with protestors pushing back on what their new President defined as the new America. Fury erupted across all both sides of the country, both sides of the aisle. American citizens separated themselves from the actions of their head of state, clearly stating the actions of one man not being reflective of the fabric of the flag.
Caveats are suddenly expressed in conversations:
“This is anti-American”
“I am an American but this is not my President”
As days have passed, unedited expressions of anger, shame and condemnation fill conversations and official communications. Across industries and individuals, the overriding statement: this is not what America stands for. This is not what our global community will stand for.
Rarely is a person’s national identity defined by what they are not.
This, sadly, is one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ times.
There are no words. Only deep, deep feelings of sadness.
And for millions, same flag or not, shame and separation.
Surely we as the global community, wherever we are, are better than this.
Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2017