Americans are burnt out on all things political. We're barely eating hot dogs and hamburgers anymore. The "moving to Canada" jokes are becoming less funny and more desperate. But, despite the screaming void of hate and bigotry that is our current political system, sometimes we all need to crack open a book and remind ourselves of the good things about America. So here are ten patriotic book quotes to pull you back from the brink of insanity.
After all, being a patriot doesn't mean blind loyalty to politicians and flags. It doesn't mean agreeing with everything the government does, or setting off fireworks, or owning a truck. Being a patriot means that you love your stupid garbage country, and you want to make it better. Yes, sometimes America can be a bit disappointing and, more recently, maybe a tad dystopian. But there still are good things about America. Like eagles. And barbecue. And libraries.
So, because we cannot all realistically move to Canada this November, here are some quotes to remind you of the good things about America:
1. My kind of loyalty was loyalty to one's country, not to its institutions or its officeholders. The country is the real thing, the substantial thing, the eternal thing; it is the thing to watch over, and care for, and be loyal to; institutions are extraneous, they are its mere clothing, and clothing can wear out, become ragged, cease to be comfortable, cease to protect the body from winter, disease, and death.
― Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
2. “My country, right or wrong,” is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying, “My mother, drunk or sober.”
― G.K. Chesterton, The Defendant
3. The greatest patriotism is to tell your country when it is behaving dishonorably, foolishly, viciously.
― Julian Barnes, Flaubert's Parrot
4. We hang on to our values, even if they seem at times tarnished and worn; even if, as a nation and in our own lives, we have betrayed them more often that we care to remember. What else is there to guide us? Those values are our inheritance, what makes us who we are as a people. And although we recognize that they are subject to challenge, can be poked and prodded and debunked and turned inside out by intellectuals and cultural critics, they have proven to be both surprisingly durable and surprisingly constant across classes, and races, and faiths, and generations. We can make claims on their behalf, so long as we understand that our values must be tested against fact and experience, so long as we recall that they demand deeds and not just words.
― Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream
5. I preferred reading the American landscape as we went along. Every bump, rise, and stretch in it mystified my longing.
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road
6. If patriotism were defined, not as blind obedience to government, nor as submissive worship to flags and anthems, but rather as love of one's country, one's fellow citizens (all over the world), as loyalty to the principles of justice and democracy, then patriotism would require us to disobey our government, when it violated those principles.
7. I realized that, sure, I was a Spokane Indian. I belonged to that tribe. But I also belonged to the tribe of American immigrants. And to the tribe of basketball players. And to the tribe of bookworms. And the tribe of cartoonists. And the tribe of chronic masturbators. And the tribe of teenage boys. And the tribe of small-town kids. And the tribe of Pacific Northwesterners. And the tribe of tortilla chips-and-salsa lovers. And the tribe of poverty. And the tribe of funeral-goers. And the tribe of beloved sons. And the tribe of boys who really missed their best friends. It was a huge realization. And that's when I knew that I was going to be okay.
― Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
8. Patriotism has nothing to do with Conservatism. It is actually the opposite of Conservatism, since it is a devotion to something that is always changing and yet is felt to be mystically the same.
― George Orwell, My Country, Right or Left
9. So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House or the Supreme Court or the Senate or the House of Representatives or the media. The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.
― Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country
10. I love America more than any other country in the world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.
― James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son