Do you remember singing “I’m Proud to Be An American“? If you do, you seem to be part of a dying breed.
A recent survey by Gallup.com showed that only 52% of US adults are “Extremely Proud” to be American, down from 70% back in 2003. American patriotism peaked among all age, political, and ethnic groups, as well as both sexes in 2003, presumably as a result of the “Rally Effect of 9/11”.
Leading the way in this decline in patriotism is of course, millennials — specifically, politically liberal millennials (you know, the “snowflake” type). Young adults (ages 18-29) surveyed at 34% and liberals of all age groups came in at 36% “extremely proud.” Conservatives surveyed at just 61%. To understand this down-trend, we must analyze the mindset of this new generation as well as the circumstances in which they were raised.
Step into the bedroom of a millennial. Look past the remains of torn-down Hillary posters or “Feel the Bern” stickers and gaze at the hypothetical trophy case. In there you’ll find countless awards. Few of which, earned by personal achievement, most of which received for participation. This is what sums up the mindset of the generation. “I deserve an award simply for being.” Not for being great, not for being the best — simply for being.
Now, a person of such decorated triumph in past trials can only view his shortcomings and failures as the fault of others. In other words, why blame yourself, when you can blame society and/or the country. This is the mindset that creates generalized delusion based on isolated events. Isolated instances of discrimination become systemic racism. Unfortunate cases of rape, create a “rape culture.” Millennials ignore individual culpability and blame the group or system as a whole. When America becomes the scapegoat for everything that goes wrong in life, how can anyone truly love it anymore?
Compare these figures to Israel; surveys show an astounding 85% of Israeli high school upperclassmen say they “love” Israel. How can a country with such a similar democracy have such drastically higher approval ratings from its youth?
The answer may lie in military service.
Israel has a mandatory draft for all Jewish citizens at age 18. Growing up knowing that you will one day serve and protect your country is humbling experience. Consequentially, countries with compulsory military service have high ratings of patriotism. Israel, Venezuela, and Austria are all countries rating in the “Top 10 Patriotic Countries” while maintaining mandatory military service.
I’m not suggesting America begin drafting again. However, Americans can learn from the principle that other countries with drafts live with: ultimately, your freedom is granted to you by your country and was earned by the thousands of men and women who sacrificed for it. Millennials are fortunate to live in a country that allows them to speak their beliefs and practice them freely. They reap the benefits without much being asked in return.
America is great and you’re free to say otherwise. Perhaps acknowledging that freedom will remind you to love your country, or at the very least, respect it.