Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"I am proud to american."

"I am proud to be indian".

"I am proud to be [insert country/race/family here]"

I have heard the above a million times. I think there's definitely a phase in most people's lives where they find out about what country, race or family tree they are from and then out of curiosity, do some more research with the hope that they will know more about who they are. But along the way, something strange happens, and they begin to feel a sense of pride about their origins. And what this does, is that it blinds them more to the bad parts of being part of that country/race etc. This blinder further fuels there sense of pride. And before you know it, they are extolling the greatness of being from so and so country or race.

I was guilty of this behavior for quite a while. I read a lot of indian history and thought that indians are the best. Then I read about south indian history and music and I thought I was more privileged to be south indian than from other parts of the country. Suddenly to me, being a part of my narrow region was more important than the larger picture of being indian.

At present, having come in contact with different cultures of the world while in America, I find my pride has completely given way to two things - appreciation of the good aspects and acknowledgment and criticism of the bad aspects. So, if someone asks me if I am proud to be indian or proud to be an american, my answer is a definite no. I just appreciate the good and acknowledge the bad. And when you look at it that way, you cannot really say that one country or culture is superior to another.

And besides, I have found that pride is more justified when its linked with something that you have acquired by merit, rather than being given or being born into something. Will someone with a wealthy inheritance say "I am proud of my riches?" I hope not.

Ask me if I am proud of my top-spin backhand in tennis after I manage to get it right. That, my friends, would be a definite yes.

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