As a young adult, I came to the realization that I hate apple pie, but love America.
I grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. I remember constantly hearing, “You can’t dislike apple pie, that’s un-American,” at almost every holiday or family get together. When I was younger I always felt strangely self-conscious about others’ reactions to my dislike for apple pie and their distaste for my “lack of patriotism.”
To me, it was a simple matter of taste and texture. I like apples, and I like pie, but the combination was just a product that I could not get behind. As I have grown older, though, I have come to understand that it’s OK to hate apple pie and still love my country.
This month marks the 231st anniversary of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. In a dimly lit room 231 years ago, our Founding Fathers gathered to discuss and replace the Articles of Confederation.
Delegates from states all across the Union gathered as General George Washington presided over the meeting. The legislators saw problems with the Articles of Confederation — including no effective way for the Federal Government to tax, a mess of foreign affairs and restricted trade between states — and vowed to find a solution.
The meeting was held in secret, with Washington even going as far as nailing the windows shut so no outsiders could hear the proceedings. Inside the meeting, the delegates laid out a form of government that was both respective of the people and intelligent. The Constitution laid out how the government would run, and plainly set forth the Bill of Rights, guaranteeing rights to the people of the United States.
In our world today, we see both a decline in those that have read and understand the Constitution and a rise in those that have a distaste for the United States of America.
Pew Research released a poll in 2014 that showed that “the number of Americans who think the United States ‘stands above all other countries’ has declined from 38 percent three years ago to 28 percent today.” With the politics and conditions of the nation since, we can infer that those numbers have only decreased.
It’s true that America has many problems, some that we like to turn a blind eye to. We forget that, in many cases, it is lobbyists who own the legislators in D.C., not the people who voted them into office.
We forget that from the time of Federalists versus the Democratic Republicans, the Whigs versus the Democrats and now the modern Republicans versus the Democrats, the two-party system has plagued our country and torn apart friends and families.
We forget that immigration, diversity, civil disobedience, hard work and acceptance has always had a place in America.
We forget that all these aspects mentioned above have given place to some of the greatest writers, artists, poets, athletes, musicians, businessmen and leaders that ever lived on this earth.
My fear is that we have gotten strung up on the little things and have forgotten what it means to be an American.
I echo the same worry that Alexis de Tocqueville did in Democracy in America, “America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
My hope is that we are good to each other. My hope is that we remember why our Founding Fathers fought so hard for this nation and the principles it represents.
The opening paragraph of the Constitution reads, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
There are some things I do and do not love about America. I can’t stand the taste of apple pie, but I love watching baseball. I dislike the two-party system, but I adore the freedoms those parties represent. I don’t like the amount of hatred the nation felt during this last election, but I love that we can express our opinions freely.
There is a lot our country needs to better at, and I believe that we will only be better when we start to take seriously our responsibility as citizens of this great nation.
As for me, I may not love apple pie, but I sure do love my country with all my heart.