OK. I love the United States. I'm devoted to this country.
I also love...
My neighborhood, Spring Lake Estates
My city, Salem
My county, Marion
My state, Oregon.
My country, United States (as already mentioned)
My continent, North America
My planet, Earth
My galaxy, Milky Way
My universe, which let's call Universe
So I'm super-patriotic.
I love and am devoted to so much more than just my country. Celebrating Independence Day (today!) by focusing on the American flag, fireworks, nationalism, our military, the Founding Fathers (no mothers, apparently) strikes me as an excessive attention to a small slice of what every person in this country should be devoted to.
In short, everything in existence, because nothing stands alone.
There's no such thing as independence. The United States wasn't really independent in 1776, or any other date. Today, as every day, our country is embedded in a web of physical, cultural, economic, environmental, and other sorts of connections.
All too often, people view patriotism as elevating one's country among all those other levels of reality I listed above. There's many problems with this. I'll just mention a few.
First, as just noted, the plain fact is that the United States doesn't stand above (or below) the other entities I listed. The United States is a concept, an abstraction, a way of thinking about the territory, political institutions, and such that now encompasses 50 states.
Viewed from space, there is no evident United States or any other country. Countries aren't so much physical realities as they are conceptual realities.
So when viewed from a loftier systems perspective, we can see that without individual states there would be no United States. And without the United States, there would be no conceptual union that those states could belong to. Thus the United States can't exist without other entities, and those other entities can't exist without the United States.
This interrelatedness of everything makes it impossible for me to view patriotism as love of country. I'm also a neighborhood, city, county, state, continent, planet, galaxy, and universe patriot.
In different ways these aspects of reality all touch me. I love each of them. I'm devoted to each of them.
Naturally I spend most of my life at my neighborhood and city level. This is where my mind and body touch existence most directly. However, I recognize that without every other level of reality -- notably the level of my planet, Earth -- I couldn't enjoy the small slice of planetary goodness called Spring Lake Estates and Salem.
Second, then, "my ________ (choose a level) right or wrong" makes no sense. I heard this sentiment a lot in my college days when so-called patriots would say to us hippie Vietnam War demonstrators, love it or leave it. Meaning, the United States.
No. False choice.
I don't have to love my country or leave my country. I can disapprove of what my country is doing and work to change it while still loving the United States. Further, to give a current example, I can love the Earth and heartily disapprove of the Trump administration's disregard of the Paris Agreement and other efforts to combat the harmful effects of global climate change.
In this regard I'm an Earth patriot.
I understand that the United States has a responsibility to our planet that it isn't fulfilling. When my wife and I took part in the Salem March for Science event on Earth Day this year, I felt super-patriotic criticizing Trump's anti-science stance, because my love and devotion extended beyond the narrow confines of nationalism.
Like my sign said, "Science is Universal."
That's why I like super-patriotism. It doesn't have any boundaries. A super-patriot loves, and is devoted to, every aspect of reality -- from one's immediate neighborhood to the furthest reaches of the universe.
Which doesn't mean that I like everything in reality. There's a lot I want to change, to make better, to improve on the planetary levels of existence (there's no way I can alter anything on the galactic or universe scale; I can only admire this vastness from afar).
Third, and lastly, an ordinary patriot believes "The United States is the greatest country on Earth." A super-patriot realizes that this is a subjective opinion, not an objective fact, because their view is broader.
Consider: I'd never say that my neighborhood, city, or state is the greatest.
I love where I live, but I understand that most people love where they live. From this Oregonian's perspective, I find it astounding that some people adore North Dakota. Yet, they do. I have no doubt that lots of North Dakotans consider their state to be the greatest in our country.
As do lots of people in every other state.
Likewise, people in every country believe that theirs is the greatest nation on the planet. A 2016 YouGov poll asked respondents in 19 countries whether "they believe you live in the best country in the world." Here's the results as reported in a Business Insider story, "RANKED: How patriotic 19 world-leading economies are."
19. France - 5%
18. Germany - 5%
17. Vietnam - 6%
15. Sweden - 7%
15. Singapore - 7%
14. Hong Kong - 8%
13. Finland - 11%
12. Norway - 11%
11. Malaysia - 11%
10. Denmark - 13%
9. UK - 13%
8. Indonesia - 14%
7. Philippines - 15%
6. Thailand - 25%
5. Saudi Arabia - 25%
4. UAE - 27%
3. Australia - 34%
2. India - 36%
1. United States - 41%
So what does this mean, objectively speaking? Nothing.
Because there is no objective way to determine which country is the best in the world. So patriotism based on a feeling of "We're #1" is ludicrous. Many people in every country believe they are #1. The United States just happens to have the highest percentage.
(But India would way outvote us, since it has so many more people.)
This comment on the low German result of 5% was interesting: "Over six decades have passed since the Second World War, but Germans still have a 'pathological fear' of patriotism, according to German magazine Der Spiegel."
However, I believe everybody should have such a fear, given that nationalistic patriotism is limited, divisive, and works against a broad view of our interconnected reality.
I encourage super-patriotism: a love of country that doesn't elevate devotion to one's nation above love of neighborhood, city, county, state, continent, planet, galaxy, and universe.