By Cameron Kroetz
I was born in 1998; I am one of the last millennials to go through REV. Though I was born at the tail end of the millennial generation, I still feel the the confusion when it comes to patriotism and the love of country. I’ve grown up during the War on Terror and renewed ethnic strife. America, as the predominant global superpower of the 20th and 21st centuries has the responsibility to respond wisely and effectively to global issues. The actions of our nation in response to global crises can be seen as ineffective and even detrimental to global stability. That is why I do not hold the common belief that the United States is the greatest country in the world.
When I am abroad and I am asked where I’m from I respond with, “I’m from California.” I do not identify as an American when I am abroad, because it is a legitimate danger to call oneself American in certain countries. Unlike most Americans, I identify with my home state when abroad more so than my nation. This train of thought has become increasingly common among millennials with only 32% of millennials saying America is greatest country in the world as opposed to about 50% of their parents’ generation (Pew Poll). I believe this is due to the time period millennials have grown up in. We have gone through an era of uncertainty with countless terrorist attacks, increased levels of gun violence, and the worst economic recession since the 1930s; it can easily be seen why we are so skeptical. We no longer live in our parents’ America.
One can argue both ways whether this fall in patriotism is a good thing or a bad thing, but I hold the belief that it may be a good thing because it shows that our generation is questioning the century old status quo of blindly following the national establishment of patriotism. We are coming of age in an increasingly globalized world in which cooperation between nations is absolutely necessary. If we as a people, continue to believe that our nation is superior to every other nation, then we will quickly find ourselves in an isolationist state of existence. In order for continued economic power we must stay connected, especially to our allies in Asia and the European Union. It could be possible that losing the blind patriotism of our ancestors may allow us to grow as a nation and as a people.
The one place where millennials have a more positive outlook than older Americans may not be surprising to many people. We have a more optimistic view of the future of the nation. This is most likely due to our generation being the most tolerant generation in American history. As children and teenagers, we watched as our nation elected the first African-American president in the history of the United States. Then as teens and young adults, we watched as President Obama became the first sitting president to come out in support of the LGBTQ movement. Later on we watched as the Supreme Court deemed all state bans on marriage equality unconstitutional and in 2016 the presidential campaigns of both major parties supported marriage equality. During all these moments of progress, the first African-American president pulled us out of the worst economic recession of the past seventy years. We millennials have a very positive outlook on the future.
Our viewpoint is not completely doom and gloom, but we are not gung-ho on the American Freedom Wagon. We are not completely proud of our nation’s history, but we still recognize that not all of it is horrible; we don’t believe everything our country does is correct, we are less patriotic for arguably good reasons, but we are optimistic. We know that the United States is the not necessarily the best country in the world but we are ready to work hard to make it that way.