George Hasara Column

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George Hasara – Columnist

I’ve never heard someone say that they were proud to win the lottery. Happy, thrilled, or elated, but not proud. My guess is, that most people don’t view winning a game of chance as an accomplishment. It doesn’t elicit the sense of satisfaction that comes with the knowledge of a job well done. On the other hand, plenty of people will say they are proud of their race, nationality, ethnicity, gender or other traits won in the DNA lottery, those characteristics they had absolutely no control over or contribution toward. At least with the Powerball or Mega Millions, you need to do something (buy a ticket) in order to win. Pride, for me, is a state of mind that is reached after an achievement, especially one requiring a significant amount of effort and persistence. I suppose in a way, it’s that feeling that tells you that you are doing something right. To be sure, there’s another definition of pride that is synonymous with arrogance, but that’s another animal altogether. I am fascinated and intrigued by my heritage, but that’s about as far as it goes. It is what it is – a static and fixed component of my life. It’s wonderful to study and learn about my lineage, but I find no personal validation in the composition of my chromosomes. Sometimes, in a tongue-and-cheek fashion, I’ll mention my “Slavic pride,” and how I’m genetically predisposed to enjoy eating cabbage, potatoes, and pickled pigs feet. Luckily, there are plenty of cultures to celebrate. Despite the criticisms in recent years, “cultural appropriation” is a good thing. I’m Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, I observe Chinese New Year, and most importantly, I become German during Oktoberfest. As trite as it may sound, we are all connected even if we don’t share a common ancestor with a single-nucleotide polymorphism mutation, known as a haplogroup. One dictionary definition of pride includes “the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated.” This vicarious sense of accomplishment is somewhat understandable. We’ll say that we are proud of our children, for instance. One word I often use instead of pride is “impressed.” To be impressed does not imply that you had anything to do with what was accomplished. I’m impressed with my son’s math prowess and his patient but futile attempts to explain trigonometry to me. One area of justifiable pride involves those who choose their nationality. It is an impressive accomplishment, a journey beginning with immigration, followed by naturalization and culminating in citizenship. My path to citizenship was through my mother’s birth canal. I didn’t have to deal with Homeland Security or fill out the 20-page Form N-400. In fact, since my parents were Americans, I was a “natural-born citizen” even before I was born. How easy is that? I won the citizenship lottery, which was fortuitous but didn’t involve fortitude and therefore not exactly something to take pride in. Contact George at georgehasara@yahoo.com.

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