Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

An Odd Sort of Nationalistic Community...

Anyone who knows me very well, probably wouldn’t call me a patriot. I don’t get warm fuzzy feelings when I see lots of stars and stripes. I don’t get chills when I hear the National Anthem. More accurately, I usually get a tinge of discomfort when I am in settings with an abundance of national pride. The reasons for this discomfort are the topic of a whole different blog, I just hope that no one would be offended before they speak to my nationalistic misgivings.

But nonetheless, I had a moment this morning that some may call ‘mildly patriotic.’ On my morning break, I walked through the San Diego Concourse, which is a big open area surrounded by San Diego City offices as well as community theatres. The concourse was full of people, most were seemingly of Hispanic descent, and more people were spilling into the concourse from the theatre. Amidst the masses were countless people with voter registration forms. Everyone I saw with voter registration forms was busy talking someone through the process of registering. There were also large booths with Hilary Clinton signs, stickers, and information. The same size booths were also there for Barack Obama. I became more and more curious as to the nature of the gathering and soon found out that a Naturalization Ceremony had just finished.

An unexpected smile came over me as I saw hundreds of people walking out of this naturalization ceremony with an American flag pinned to their chest and a huge smile plastered to their face. As they walked out of the ceremony they were greeted with the opportunity to register to vote, an act previously denied to them. In addition, there were representatives of presidential candidates (only Democratic, interestingly enough) on hand to inform new voters about the presidential candidates. There was something neat about a group of people being officially incorporated into a nation in which they had lived for quite sometime. This also meant that they could sign up for their voice to be heard in the upcoming election, and all elections to follow.



(Note: I feel weird about writing this because it’s so unlike anything I usually write, or even think. Mostly, it was a moment where I saw a lot of people happy. And regardless of how evil I think borders, nation-states, and immigration policies are, there were a lot of people happy to become Americans. And as atrocious, neglectful, and unjust as I think many of the domestic and foreign policies of the United States of America are, it’s cool that a group of people that were left of the margins in terms of their immigration status, are now included (at least officially). And democracy is good in the sense that those people can effect some change through voting. Ok I’m done, that’s as patriotic as it gets.)

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

As atrocious, neglectful, and unjust as you think many of the domestic and foreign policies of the United States of America are, I think it's cool that there are still some people who would go to the lengths they have just to become citizens of this country and can be more proud of it than some of its less grateful native sons.

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