Monday, July 04, 2005

It's Independence Day

So be independent.

I think there is a common sort of caution that has gotten us into so much trouble in this country and on this planet.

The guys we supposedly celebrate today were diehard revolutionaries, ready even eager to make personal sacrifices to make the colonies a better nation than the parochial (and UNrepresentative) monarchy they'd left behind. Not a bunch of hot dog munching picnickers, this lot of American revolutionaries.

And still today, as then, we've got to educate ourselves AGAINST acquiescent nationalism, against blind faith, against state religion and promulgated religious furvor, against saccharine sentiment that blinds us toward our own ruts and addictions and rote status quo.

Karl Rove knows it. He's a brilliant American revolutionary, with his war of terror, his fundamentalist war that uses hate and fear - "a war against love." Rove knows, and do a few of us progressives as well, that ours is a more brutish and overreaching country than many would seem to admit or even see. Think King George, 1776.

Things American have not gone the way of the bleeding-heart diplomat since Reagan redesigned the definition of what it means to be a good American. It's Independence Day. Caution is not in order.

I am not so angry as all this "A Better Nation" tirade may sound. Hell, I've got my sights on human nature. I know we're hard-wired to it, not just out here on our own making a mess of things local and global. So I have an age-tempered awareness of what's up and what's at stake - a bit of Ben Franklin in me, I hope. Meanwhile, I am markedly less cautious than others - a bit of the Dean Democrat in me. Give 'em hell, those ruthlessly Rovian and selfishly state-sponsored powers that be.

My intention is not to be angry or pessimistic or cynical. It is to be realistic and to look with steely eyes at what might be best for the planet. It is, ultimately, to be patriotic in the real sense of the word - a voice for if not quite champion of what really might be best for all of us and all of life in the long run.

And it is a long run, folks, even if your American education has instilled in you the manic drive for momentary, hourly, daily, instantly messaged results, pushed and paraded and multi-tasked to the hilt - a culture in which quarterly reports are seen as the long term good of all that money and work.

So, my friends and fellow countrymen and women, have a non-nationalistic 4th of July.

I'm not boycotting the idea of cute parades and the visceral thrill of fireworks. But I would say that military honors is a nonsequiter and that we should not glorify the might and machinery or even the men and women of our imperial march.

I would say that people who appear to be conventional patriots are fools. my mind, itt does seem like a good time to make brash and brainless displays of red, white and blue seem like the costume and cloak of clowns.

I envy those who serve a better cause - and a better nation.

Be careful out there, but don't be too cautious. Supposedly, this IS the home of the brave. Let's see it!


At 7/04/2005 8:23 AM, Anonymous Yogini from Houston said...

Why don't we, at least for today, celebrate our country, be grateful for what we have.... a nation that provides the freedom to choose who we want to be, and how we want to live. Why don't we focus on the privileges that we experience every single day. There is not another land of such extensive opportunity on this entire planet earth...if you disagree, then I humbly suggest that you travel more.

There is no question that we have problems. But isn't it nice that we, the people, can talk about them, act out upon them, and, as you say...step up to the plate, make changes., as I come and go, I will glance up at my flag with a grateful heart. I will focus on what I haveā€¦not on what I have not. I will consciously honor this nation for my freedom and opportunities, and remind myself that the way to a peaceful planet begins with me.

At 7/04/2005 1:02 PM, Anonymous rainlily said...

It seems a dichotomy to be an American - quite often painfully aware of how we came to be, a country born of rebellion & bloodshed fighting for high democratic ideals that we continue to strive for IF we remain alert to potential derailing.

By a quirk of fate i was born a white American not a black Kenyan, or even a Native American. I've been spared many of the negatvie undertones and undertows felt by others. I count myself lucky, but that doesn't grant me a place to sit on my laurels. It also pains and frustrates me that others are not fairly treated here and elsewhere on the planet, that i must deligently look at how my actions abet, knowingly and unwittingly.

Focusing on what we have shouldn't blind us to what others do not - be it clean water, freedom from fear, a safer future for their children, or just plain options.

At 7/05/2005 7:11 AM, Blogger Lawrence said...

I, too, consider myself a serious patriot - but with ideals and imagination (and education/awareness) that make me ambitious for my country to make major changes and improvements - to move more toward our constitutional ideals than away from them, toward what we might call an American-branded New World Order of Neocon Corporatism that is really, in so many ways, old-fashioned feudalism at its core.

I, too, speak up out of patriotism. But I feel I have to not-participate in the conventional jingoism of flag waving and the glory of explosives meant to symbolize "bombs bursting in air." This year, I'm in the mood for a quieter, gentler, kinder sort of celebration.


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