Posts Tagged ‘patriotism’

Let’s not hold our breath.

July 2, 2011

Our flag is up for the 4th of July weekend. Always a beautiful sight: the red, white and blue against the green trees and blue sky. The flag is a symbol of all that our country stands for, hopes for, strives toward.

Even those of us who are called progressives or liberals have a love of country (and a love of God). But it’s a love as one loves a child, filled with expectations that it will grow and mature, that it will be a force for good. That it will care about all people, and especially care for many whenever it is a necessity.

Liberals tend to not have a blind, flag-waving patriotism filled with exclusion and indifference toward any and all who fail to measure up or toward those who fail to march to the tune we hear rather than their own.

Nor do we hold a  patriotism embracing exceptionalism. As I hear exceptionalism, it carelessly and recklessly manifests itself through a global entitlement free of any sense of wrongdoing. An entitlement to deal with others through a heavy-handed and punitive diplomacy. We liberals seem to have a sense of gratitude rather than privilege.

Liberals exhibit compassion toward those who struggle. We recognize the difference between “won’t” and “can’t” when thinking about benefits and assistance for the poor, homeless, physically and developmentally disabled, jobless, sick, and those subjected to abuse and discrimination. I never met a poor person who was in it for the money.

Liberals aren’t afraid of foreigners, gay people, Muslims, immigration. In general we are a pretty understanding and accepting  bunch, comfortable in our own skin … most of the time.

If you can, listen to talk shows on the right and on the left. Which one finds it necessary to yell and scream, as though talking louder makes any more sense? But those who scream outrageous and unfounded comments do have their followers, and their followers do vote. Often against their own self-interest, but they do vote.

Some of the talk show hosts on the extreme right confuse Nazis, fascists, socialists. It’s a shame. Otherwise they would have seen how far we were being driven into becoming a fascist state during the 2000 – 2008 time period. What was going on was  much more intentional and vigorous than the  current administration is (perceived to be) moving toward socialism.

It will be interesting to see whom the Republicans choose to help rid the White House of those black people. So far, there isn’t one I would trust roaming those halls. Anyone who doesn’t think race is behind the obstruction and lack of cooperation in an effort to have President Obama be a one term president, doesn’t get out much. “Take our country back” means what? if not a thinly veiled display of white privilege.

Many think Obama is doing a lousy job, completely forgetting about the alternative. Oh, boy! Wouldn’t we be having fun now with the McCain/Palin leadership team while McConnell and Boehner kneel before the throne.

My congressman, Todd Akin, says liberals have a “hatred for God.” That’s funny. Most of the liberals I know are quite the opposite. One only has to look at which party cares about whom, which party really follows the social justice agenda of most major religions, to draw some conclusion as to where God fits in one’s life. Take any piece of Republican legislation and see if it helps people who need help. Of course I mean current day Republicans, not those who used to be committed to moving the country forward.

Our flag will fly all weekend. Maybe Grover Norquist’s pledge-puppets will work all weekend. Perhaps wisdom won’t take a holiday. But let’s not hold our breath.

Nevertheless, I love that flag

July 3, 2008

Tuesday I put out our flag for the rest of the week and through Sunday. What a glorious sight, the red, white and blue against the green of the oak tree and the clear blue sky. It is doubtful that I will ever tire of seeing our country’s flag hoisted aloft into the breeze.

I wonder, though, how the sight of our nation’s symbol could have taken on such a distaste for me following 9/11 when one could find it plastered everywhere. Oh, how I wish the flag had been displayed out of a sense of patriotism. But the patriots I knew weren’t brandishing the flag anywhere and everywhere. Instead, I perceived the flag’s being displayed out of a selfish vengeance, out of a “you-can’t-do-that-to-us because we are the leader of the free world” mentality. People seemed to be in a mood to form a posse rather than ask any critical questions about why such a thing as the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon could have happened. Everywhere you looked, God was being asked to bless our sense of outrage.

Afghanistan I could understand, sort of. But it is a mystery as to why we didn’t listen to other countries prior to starting the Iraq war. We have a couple of buildings knocked down and go absolutely nuts. Those who have had thousands of buildings bombed and destroyed, have had hundreds of thousands of their civilians killed, have invaded and been invaded, have occupied and been occupied, were simply blown off as being unaware of the dangers of today’s world. Who turned out to be the ones unaware? We acted like a spoiled person of privilege who might think it appropriate to burn down a neighbor’s house full of people because one of their kids did a lawn job on some new zoysia. No understanding, no proportionality, no seeking of advice, just thoughtless revenge and indifference to what might follow.

How did we get into this? I’m reminded of a quote from Bruce Catton’s This Hallowed Ground as the drumbeat to war was unfolding in the 1850s:

There is a rowdy strain in American life, living close to the surface but running very deep. Like an ape behind a mask, it can display itself suddenly with terrifying effect. It is slack-jawed, with leering eyes and loose wet lips, with heavy feet and ponderous cunning hands; now and then, when something tickles it, it guffaws, and when it is made angry it snarls; and it can be aroused much more easily than it can be quieted. … and when it comes lumbering forth it can make the whole country step in time to its own frantic irregular pulse-beat.

History has quite a sense of humor to have all this going on at a time when the Oval Office is devoid of any wisdom or sensibilities. Meanwhile, the Congress simply nods away as though mindless of all that America had stood for up to that date in 2001. Here we sit in 2008 with an energy crisis and no plan, the economy is tanking, real wages are in decline for those most in need.  We have a reputation as a torturer and invader of sovereign nations without provocation, as a killer of thousands of innocents because we are worried about our gluttonous need for oil. We have a government willing to spy on its own citizens. It seems that anything goes unless it is for the common good of either our own citizens or those of other nations.

To me, patriotism is loving our country enough to expect more than we are currently getting out of our national leaders. Thinking everything the government does is wonderful isn’t patriotism, it’s just being lazy, uninformed, and afraid to think about our responsibilities in the world. There has to be a better way for us to share our space on this planet. It seems, however, that we’d rather seal the borders … except for unloading oil tankers or shipping stuff to China … and tell the rest of the world what to do while not realizing we have lost our voice.

Nevertheless, I love that flag and all that it has stood for and can stand for. This time will pass, but we will be damned lucky if we escape the foolishness of these past eight years.