This morning I saw footage of relief aid being delivered (finally) in Myanmar. A huge pallet of boxes, wrapped in shrink wrap, was being unloaded. Attached to the boxes was a gigantic sign that read "U.S. AID from the American people". For a moment, I felt some pride that my country was helping others, just as we always do. Then the cynical side of me had questions. If we know that Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) hates us, and if our primary desire is to help the thousands and thousands of people affected by the cyclone, wouldn't we be a bit more low key about it? If the packages are already labeled that way, should they be? I felt like the relief aid, while desperately needed, was doing a bit of political work. I even pictured the person who originally came up with the idea and the nodding of heads when the idea was first vocalized.
I wish I wasn't a cynic about these things. I know I would be happier if I could go back to being the type of American who didn't question the motives of my government and its many agencies. But I can't. Patriotism, for me, will always be looking carefully at the "deciders" to see what hidden motives might be there. It is almost impossible to be objective about yourself, so I think the prudent person looks to others to provide feedback.
Who do you ask to mirror you?