So a survey of patriotism has found California lacking.
No surprise there. We have been called the land of fruits and nuts, the land of milk and honey and the nation’s cereal bowl.
Which makes us sound pretty flaky.
Playing on the initials of our largest city, we have been nicknamed LA-LA Land. And we have another large burg that is so pretentious it labels itself simply as The City.
We are the Golden State and the Bear State. Our state Motto is Eureka, which means “I have found it.”
Indeed, many of us did find it. We now number almost 40 million, and if we were a sovereign nation our economy would rank as fifth largest in the world.
We are pretty diverse. According to the U.S. Census estimates, Hispanics are the largest ethnic group at 39 percent of state population, whites at 37 percent and Asians at 15 percent. Women outnumber men, just barely.
But we’re we patriotic? In a study by financial advisory firm WalletHub, California ranks 48th of 50 states in patriotism — based on “Military Engagement” and “Civic Engagement.”
Military Engagement considers the number of military enlistees and veterans per capita. In other words, how well do we serve our country in the armed forces?
Civic Engagement considersvvolunteerism and voting numbers per capita — how well do we serve our cities and counties through activism and elections.
Critics can argue the methodology and accuracy of such a ranking. But the bigger question is: How do we measure patriotism?
As we celebrate our country’s most patriotic holiday this week, here is a question we should be asking: What do I do to show support for my country, my state, my city/county?
To me, there are a few criteria:
— Do I vote on what is best for my country, state and city? Or do I blindly follow what my party, my neighbors or my church tell me I should believe?
— Am I doing something active to help the U.S., California or Selma be better places to live — safer, more tolerant, more welcoming, more eco-friendly, more financially stable?
— Can I feel free and comfortable speaking my mind about serious issues that affect all of us?
Do I value the opinions of those who disagree with me? Can we reasonably discuss issues and disagree with respect?
— Do I embrace our diversity of race, socio/economic standing, gender and sexual orientation? Can I look at someone different from me with acceptance and listen to their needs?
These are the questions I sometimes ask myself. I love America, I love California and I love Selma. I know none of those entities are perfect, but I want to help make this a better place to be. Because I live here, and so do other members of my family.
As we pay our respects this week to the good old U.S. of A., as we watch fireworks, eat tri-tip and tacos, drink lemonade or something harder, can we just for a moment put away our differences and, as patriotic Americans, stand for the national anthem and take pride in our country?
We don’t have to agree with what our leaders are doing. We don’t have to like all the laws and regulations being passed and taxes being levied. But I hope we can all agree that wanting to make where we live a better place — and working to make that happen — is the essence of patriotism.
Because if we can’t agree on that, then we are in trouble.
(Longtime Selma resident Ken Robison is a former newspaper reporter, editor, columnist and photographer. Selma Stories runs regularly in The Enterprise.)