Monday, October 3, 2011

Proud to Be

When I first came to Montana I was amazed all of the bumper stickers on vehicles proudly proclaiming Montana roots; third, fourth, fifth generations signs were and are very common to see. I thought, wow, that’s great to be proud of your heritage, I didn’t see bumper stickers proclaiming, “I’m Proud to be a Minnesotan” back in my home state. But, after further thought, I got to thinking, what about me? I chose to live in Montana, I’m proud to live here now. But those people had no choice in where they were born. Montana was a decision made for them. So where is the proof they are “proud Montanans?”

The longer I lived here, the more I began to observe how many Montanans seemed to have no respect for their state by the way they ignored many state laws, like drinking and driving, speeding, and littering. When I travel scenic highways I must be on guard against Montanans speeding around me to get from point “A” to point “B” as fast as they can. If they were proud of Montana, wouldn’t they take the time to enjoy its scenery? And I see no proof of that “proud” spirit when I see our highways littered with empty beer cans and cases, diapers, and fast food garbage.

There is a town up on the Hi-line with posters speckling the town like fly feces on a barn window, reading, “Treasured State, NOT Treasured Landscape” When I first saw this I thought, “What the Nantucket?”

Yeah, I get it, they have something against the Missouri Breaks National Monument—for whatever reason that makes sense to them—but as I drive through the Missouri Breaks I see a “treasured landscape.” Well, I guess you have to come from somewhere else to treasure it, because as far as I can tell, they are not proud of the beauty Montana has to offer in their portion of the prairie.

Then, thinking about our nation as a whole—it seems to be filled to the brim with people proclaiming they are proud to be Americans; but I have to ask, just why are they proud? Have they bothered to learn its history and geography—beyond high school level? Have they bothered to read the US Constitution—beyond the Second Amendment? Are they honest about paying taxes? Do they bother to vote? So where is the proof that they are proud of their nation?

And what about your religion, is it something you inherited, but never bothered to learn its basic tenets, or read its holy book, or follow its teachings? Show me the proof that you truly believe what you say you do.

I see a lot of people who are rabid about defending their nation and their religion; they’re willing kill or die for what they say they love—without really knowing or honoring either. They are where they are and believe what they believe by accident of birth and yet they have the audacity to put down another nationality or religion or people who had no choice in where they were born or what color their skin is or in what their fathers believed and worshiped.

On second thought, don’t show me the proof; show the world the proof, the world watches how we behave and they are not impressed. Then, show yourselves the proof that you are proud of where you live, of the government you support and the religion you follow—even if you have to start from scratch to learn it for yourself. Prove it to yourselves before you expect anyone else to believe you when you say “I’m Proud.”

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