Empty holidays for all
Pen looping and careening wildly, President Trump is making hasty work of his list of agendas through executive orders. His first was to make his inauguration day a “National Day of Patriotic Devotion.”
In his inauguration speech, he prescribes unity under our flag as salvation from the pains of the past, for “when you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.” Divisiveness among Americans was a focal point of this last election, so Trump has taken it upon himself to unite the country by moving prejudices beyond our borders.
Arrogance is often associated with the Trump persona—the kind of arrogance that leads someone to make a holiday of his own inauguration. That is not the case here, however. This type of order is not unique to the Trump brand of presidency.
It is tradition for new presidents to make the day of their inauguration a national holiday retroactively, and President Trump is just following in their footsteps. President Obama made his day the “National Day of Renewal and Reconciliation” in 2009, and President George W. Bush made his day the “National Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving” in 2001. The choice of holiday is supposed to unite people after the election divided them, and it sets the tone for the presidency.
People are part of groups in various degrees. Everyone strives for these circles of inclusivity; they both justify one’s existence in the world and keep it secure. If everyone is of the same group, however, no person gains additional validation or security. For every “us,” there must exist a “them.”
Patriotism is putting the country over any other group. It brings healing to the country by temporarily hiding group discrimination instead of addressing the underlying issues that lead to discrimination.
Be patriotic by acknowledging that we as a country can and will get stronger, but we must do so by supporting our fellow citizens. Patriotism is not obedience to our leaders, and we must not flinch in the face of our faults. Focus on bettering what you can, and, in the style of a president, make the day your own.