According to a recent FOX News poll, 51% of Americans are proud of their country, while 45% are not. This is reported as a huge decrease in the number of proud Americans from 2011, but it’s not a very big decrease from 2016, when only 52% of Americans said they were “extremely proud” of their country according to a Gallup polls taken at the time. According to Gallup, the number of Americans who were “extremely proud” to be American in 2003 was 70%. Of course, that was still pretty close to 9-11 and before the economic downturn and probably reflects that.
Why are so few Americans proud of our country? Charles Krauthammer thinks that many Americans think Donald Trump as president is a poor representative of the American brand. But, pride in America was on a steady decline since 2014. Perhaps the 2016 election cycle (which, if I recall correctly, began in 1934 — or maybe it only seemed to last that long!) has something to do with it.
But, there’s another factor here that Krauthammer brings up and I think he’s dead on. Our schools have adopted a curriculum of teaching the sins of America and ignoring the accomplishments. I recall when we lived in Texas, my middle daughter would come up upset that her history teacher was degrading the country so consistently. I even wrote the guy an email asking him why he was teaching my daughter to hate her country. He wrote back and insisted that wasn’t his intent, and my daughter told me he seemed to mellow a bit after that. But, why do our schools do this? Is there any other country in the world where teachers at the high school and college level teach their pupils to be ashamed of their country?
We need to teach the dark side of American history. But, we don’t need to teach only the dark side. Neither do we need to teach that the United States is uniquely bad, as if no other country suffered slavery, civil war, or the suppression of one people by another. There are tremendous accomplishments in the history of the United States. To deny that or to choose to omit that or, worse, to not believe or to reject that, is as myopic and self-serving as teaching only the accomplishments and none of the failures.
Finally, along with teaching history in a balanced way, we need to start teaching civics again. It’s disastrous to teach our kids that their country has done so many bad things and then not teach them that they are empowered to contribute to the change that will make those bad things a part of history. Otherwise, our kids will conclude that they have no investment in their country. People who have no investment in their community will soon turn against it.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.