6. Clair Lester
Public religiosity, it seems to be seen as a virtue in the US.
Where I am in the UK, religion is a private thing, we don’t display it and tend to think that overt religiosity in a politician is a negative thing.
I have worked with people for years before finding out that they are regular church goers or Jewish or atheist. There are people I have known for years and I still don’t have a clue if they have a religion. I only found out whether my parents believe in god this year because I asked them, I am 32 and it had not come up in conversation before.
To me discussing religion publically is slightly awkward and disconcerting, I would equate it to someone discussing their hysterectomy or piles in public, just a little too personal. It’s something that is only discussed in private amongst friends.
On the flip side the impression I get from American media is that religion is a very public thing, that all politicians have to invoke god in their campaigns.
The only people who have asked me about my religion on first meeting have been American and on both occasions I was so disconcerted that they had asked that I was unable to form a coherent answer.
I too find the “my country, right or wrong” attitude offensive. It enables so much bad behavior on the part of our elected officials. Presidents should never, for example, take us into war without a really good reason for people (our soldiers and theirs) to die or be maimed.
To me, patriotism is acknowledging that our country has problems, and being willing to work to correct them. The ideals of our Founding Fathers were, for the most part, excellent. But the country did not then, and does not now, live up to all of them. Therefore it is the striving to reach the ideals is important and should be the duty of every citizen, whether it is by voting or by activism.
And most of our history is reaching some of those ideals. The Civil War, horrible as it was, ended the greater horror that was slavery. The Civil Rights movement worked to grant equal rights to our black citizens. Now, many are working to ensure equal rights to the LGBT community. All of these struggles are necessary so that each American is equal under the law, and has the best chance of realizing their potential. Income inequality is a threat to that.
Similar to the “my country, right or wrong” problem is the idea of American exceptionalism. America is great at many things, but there is much we can learn from other countries. Finland, for example, has a better educational system. Many countries have health systems that work better for all their citizens. It is the mark of a successful country, or person, to be open to the good ideas of others.