No doubt the Fourth of July is a good day for an American to reflect on many things including the meaning of patriotism. My views on patriotism are clearly informed by my experiences - nothing earth shattering there. What I mean by that is that input is related to output in this instance. I suppose it's arguable that such should not be the case, that irrespective of the ups and downs of my personal experience a certain love for my country should undergird my broader outlook. Such a view might be easier to advance, and more germane to this blog entry, were I not to feel any particular affection for my country; that, however, is not the case. The fact is that I've had a good life which I owe in some important measure to the single circumstance of having been born in the U.S. I'm not so foolish as to dismiss the notion that being born a white male in the late 1950s in the U.S. has had a far greater impact on my life than the accident of geography. But, simply put, I am who I am and the totality of my personal experiences informs my personal patriotism. Those experiences are definitely the result of how a number of different privileges have acted to shape them, and one such privilege is the privilege of being an American. Look, I know the country has plenty of flaws, that we could do far better both here and abroad in many ways, but, honestly, I'd feel like some sort of ingrate were I to deny the link between my relatively prosperous life and the fact that I'm an American. The opportunities I've been afforded, the liberties I've been allowed to exercise, the material well-being I've enjoyed, and the security I've been provided have all added up to a life I'm thankful for. And the Fourth of July is as good a day as any for me to keep all of the above in mind.