Family, friends, cliques, groups, age, sex, classrooms, careers, hobbies, sports, politics, gangs, religion, language, race, physical appearance, and nationality. Positive or negative, most things in our lives tend to polarize us, to set us against each other in some mental, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, or physical way.
In most cases, these choices are made for us at least partly by chance. Our family is obvious. Our friends may be chosen, but they are usually choices of local convenience. We form ties with people whom we learn with, whom we work with. We tend to adopt the sensibilities of our parents, friends, and neighbors, be that political party, religion, favorite sports teams, etc. We learn the language(s) of our parents.
All these things in our lives--chosen or assumed--we defend with a certain zeal that is a bit hypocritical. We improperly rationalize our stance. A person in the Red Gang defends it against the Blue Gang, not realizing that if he had been born 2 streets away, the situation would be reversed.
So at this time of the year in the United States with slightly increased thoughts of patriotism, I would urge you to remember what we are: a nation formed by people trying to escape various societies where they did not feel welcome, where they were persecuted, or worse.
Do not hide behind blind patriotic elitism. The fact that the country you happened to born in is the most powerful in the world (or any other appropriate superlative you care to insert) is not a reason to be proud; it was random chance you were born here. If anything, you should feel fortunate to live in a country that tolerates dissention.
Celebrate that. Celebrate freedom and diversity. You can do what you want, and say what you want. Don't you let 'em forget it.