On St. Patrick’s Day, I wore no buttons that read: “Proud to be Irish.” While I’m of Celtic stock, I’m neither proud or ashamed to be Irish, but indifferent to this fact — as I would be if I were of any other ethnicity or race. Instead, I’m proud to be an individualist and an American, and believe our nation would be better off if it rediscovered this philosophy.

People can properly enjoy ethnic-oriented celebrations such as St. Patrick’s Day, with their distinct musical and dance styles and food and drink. What I won’t participate in is taking pride in my ethnicity or race.

Actually, pride is the emotional reward an individual feels after he achieves his personally chosen values, such as productive work, honesty and integrity. Conversely, ethnicity and race are inborn and therefore outside of one’s choices. You cannot take pride in this non-achievement. Nor can you be proud of the achievements of individuals of your race. I, for example, cannot take pride for being a white man because Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford were great achievers. To do so is to adopt false pride. Only you, through your own individual rational choices and actions, can achieve pride.

I’m proud, for example, that I’ve overcome obstacles to achieve goals I chose for myself, such as becoming a writer. Further, I’m proud to be an American, not because I am native to this land, or because I believe “my country, right or wrong,” a nationalist attitude typical in Europe. Instead, I’m proud because I choose to remain here and live by the original, fundamental ideals that built this great nation: love of freedom and the pursuit of one’s own goals and happiness. In this land, I’m free to be a self-made individual, just like the great, productive Americans mentioned above.

Being Irish is part of who I am, but it plays no role in my basic identity. I define myself by the values and goals I’ve chosen to pursue and have achieved, not by conforming to the traditions of my ethnic ancestry, nor by the achievements of people who simply share my race.

Yet America, the land of individualism, is being further balkanized by race, a phenomenon that often begins when children are taught to identify themselves primarily with their race. Unchecked by individualism, this idea eventually leads to such abominations as calls for slave reparations, in which the people to receive these handouts weren’t enslaved, nor have the people punished to pay the reparations ever enslaved anyone. In reality, no individual is a victim or victimizer by virtue of their racial ancestors.

It’s high time Americans shed their false “pride” in their ethnicity, and pursue universal values beneficial to all individuals, no matter their race. Identifying primarily with your physical genetics, and the eventual varied divisions, wars and mass killings this tribalism ultimately generates, is nothing to be proud of.

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Joseph Kellard

Joseph Kellard is a journalist living in New York. To read more of Mr. Kellard's commentary, visit his website The American Individualist at americanindividualist.blogspot.com.

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