Posts tagged " patriotism "

My Country is Greater than Your Country

March 7th, 2018 Posted by Susan's Musings 16 comments

When I wrote a Musing about comfort reading, I received a number of gifts from readers in the form of book suggestions. One of these was from my friend, Judy (who happens to be the author of the highly recommended book, The Skeptic and the Rabbi). She suggested the 44 Scotland Street series by Alexander McCall Smith. While I haven’t started that series yet, her suggestion prodded me to read the first book in the writer’s  The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. 

I am hooked. Along with enjoying these charmingly written, evocative and delightful books—I am currently reading the eleventh in the series—I am intrigued by something I have noticed. The protagonist of the books is Mma Precious Ramotswe, founder and owner of the only detective agency in Botswana. I admit to knowing little of Botswana before starting these books, but Mr. McCall Smith is clearly in love with the country in which he lived for many years.

Mma Ramotswe is warm and wise. She is also highly patriotic and convinced of the superiority of her country as well as proud that she is a Motswana (member of the Tswana tribe). On occasion, she compares her country to others on the continent of Africa and her tribe to other tribes. There is no cultural equivalency here; her heritage is clearly superior. At the same time, she is a loving foster mother to two children of Bushman background and helps people from all countries and tribes, often at no charge.

I began to wonder what the response might be if a similar series was written extolling, shall we say, the United States among other North American countries. Or perhaps, claiming that Oklahoma was more praiseworthy than New York? Is it all right to compare one’s ethnic heritage with someone else’s to the detriment of the second? Mma Ramotswe’s pride is endearing. Why don’t I find it xenophobic and racist?

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History Matters – originally published December 4, 2008

March 27th, 2011 Posted by Susan's Musings 1 comment

I love living in the Pacific Northwest. The myriad shades of green, white snow capped mountains and sparkling blue waters (well, when the sun is out) are a balm to the soul. The pace of life is gentle and soothing to one who grew up in New York City. But, aside from Indian annals, there isn’t a lot of American history in the area. The Pig War, so named in memory of the lone casualty, just doesn’t loom large. 

So, it is always a thrill to be on the east coast, particularly in the South. Driving from Baltimore to Roanoke, VA, as we did last week for Thanksgiving, we passed signs for Harper’s Ferry, Antietam, and numerous other Civil War sites. A day earlier we were at a wedding in New York close to a cemetery filled with the graves of Revolutionary War veterans. 

In my previous life as a Homeschooling mom, history was one core of our curriculum. Reading, writing and ‘rithmetic certainly had their place, but an idea I tried hard to convey is that language and numbers are tools to be used for living. Proficiency with them was vital but not the goal. The goal was raising the next generations with values and morals so that they would use the skills they acquired to live in a way that would bring honor to God, their family and their nation. 

For that purpose, history is invaluable. Recognizing the gigantic mistakes to which we humans are prone and the acts of greatness to which we can rise, forces one to evaluate ideas and actions. An educated, brilliant person who is evil is capable of doing more harm than an ignorant, evil person of average competency. Advanced degrees are no assurance of being good or even of being wise. 

Walking in the footsteps of history reminds us of those men who gave their lives and the families who sacrificed their men for the formation and continuation of this country. Too many history books are dull and inaccurate. A few weeks ago I was privileged to hear American historian, David Barton. His words were disturbing as he decried the many random mistakes and deliberate revisionist history built into to the newly opened visitor center at the nation’s Capitol. The over six hundred million taxpayer dollars spent were too often used to convey an agenda and bias rather than historical fact. 

So, while I always leave the Northwest with some regret, occasional visits to the east coast serve as a reminder that America’s prosperity and greatness were not random events. They were the results of faith, conviction, courage and sacrifice and if we wish for this country to continue on a successful path, we need to be willing to learn about and inculcate in ourselves those same ideas.

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