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Today

I find myself in this unusual predicament every year:  I love watching technicolour, glittery explosions in the sky, but in spite of being born in Ohio, and having lived in the States most of my life, I have no internalised concept of an "American identity".  I don't find this sad, like some might; I know what I am, my English grandmother told me, and I agree with her:  I'm British, I just can't afford to go home.  Just like herself and my Cornish grandfather.

It's been clear to me all my life that I don't fit in here.  When I was in fourth grade, I was able to articulate (and even understand what I was articulating) why the UK was in the right to tax her North American colonies —that doesn't make friends in the States, even in a Catholic school, and I learned the hard way.  I didn't retain that lesson of Grandmummy's very well, but I still stand by it, if only because I also know that the loudest complaints against this whole "taxation without representation" thing that I'm "supposed to hate" for no other reason than I was born on what was, in 1776, Shawnee land, were the richest citizens of the colonies, thus the people who were getting taxed the most, if only be default, and I have no patience for rich people who think they shouldn't have to pay their share for a working government.

That said, while I do tend to support the idea of a tutelary deity of the United States, the most popular of which being Columbia, this is another deity, like an overwhelming majority of the Celtic pantheons, to whom I just cannot connect on any meaningful level.  I can connect with Britannia, even in the Midwestern US, but Columbia is distant from me.

Now, I've had off-and-on ill feelings toward the United States --her government, her culture, even an overwhelming majority of her people.  I have huge respect for the pre-Colonial nations that inhabited this land, prior, and still continue to inhabit these lands, albeit in a more fractured way — and not in the "newage sewage" wishy-washy highly romanticised way, either (after all, the Columbus and his crew brought back syphillus from the Americas, in addition to other imports), but as an ally who strives to be better at it.  I also have a fondness of the land of North America, how can anyone not see the beauty of this land?  My feelings toward "Americans" and "the USA", though, are largely indifferent.  There are small groups and certain individual Americans I think should die in a fire, sure, and there are a handful of folk I can't imagine the world without (like the founding members of The Tubes), of course, but I'm largely indifferent at this point in my life.

My point is that, for some people, this is a day of celebration.  For others, it is not.  For many in the latter camp, it's not necessarily about failing the most common definition of "american" (being one who was born and/or mostly, if not completely, raised here).  And it's not about being anti-American, which is born of hatred.  No, for many it's simply indifference.  We feel no connection to this concept and simply reject the notion that cos of certain arbitrary factors, then we should.

So indulge in patriotist today, or don't.  Or simply go watch technicolour glittery explosions in the sky for the simple love of watching technicolour glittery explosions in the sky — that's all I hope to do.  Light a candle and some incense for the deitiy/ies od your choosing, and just enjoy your day.

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Ruadhán J McElroy is a Helenic polytheist recon (Boeotian traditions) currently living in Lansing, MI, and maintains a blog focused on Boeotian religion and his own Neo-Cyrenaic Pluralism philosophy that blends the fragments of Cyrenaic Hedonism, the pluralistic philosophy of Empedocles, and some proto-Hedonism from Democritus. He also writes a series of fiction focused on the Mod subculture, has a shop on Etsy, and occasionally works as a DJ of Mod Revival and Ska music.

Comments

  • Jamie
    Jamie Monday, 08 July 2013

    Ruadhan, for the love of the Gods, I could probably write down everything we agree about on the back of an amoeba. But truth be told, even as a teen the whole "Taxation Without Representation" rationale for treason just smelled bad. Doesn't it seem slightly ironic? New England bankers lecturing the Crown about economic justice, and Virginia slaveowners condemning the British Empire's regard for "The Rights Of Man"? All because the costs of waging transatlantic warfare had gotten to the point where North American British subjects needed to start paying a larger share of the burden.

    I, however, have no British identity. I'm a New England swamp Yankee. The stony hills, the rocky swamplands, the seacoast. Even the grubby and dangerous cities of the Great Six States are the only land that, deep in my heart, I could ever call home. This is my homeland...the USA is my country.

    I also support some of the causes of the North American indigenous peoples. And if you should wish me to die in a fire, this Platonist Hellenist certainly doesn't wish the same upon you. ;)

    Aetius

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