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Tag Archives: patriotism

America The Not So Beautiful

Dissent is Patriotism

I believe I wrote this (see below) during the administration of George W. Bush who, at the time, I thought was the worst President I had lived through. Harry S. Truman was POTUS when I was born (1947) but the first I remember is Ike (Dwight D. Eisenhower). With the election of Donald J. Trump, I have lived through 13 presidencies, most of them two-termers.

Now that I’ve figured that out, and despite not being superstitious, I can’t help but note that Trump is number 13 and, were I triskaidekaphobic, that reality (a difficult word to use in the Drumpf era, no?) would be significant. In this case, I consider it amusing, but entirely random.

At any rate, inasmuch as I’ve begun using this space to share some of my other work from different venues and applications, I have some old poetry and the like I will no doubt put up on occasion. Some of what I’ve written (and bothered to keep over the years) is not what I would consider complete, as I sometimes just jot stuff down as it occurs to me and often don’t actually spend the time completely fleshing it out.

One day I guess I was thinking of the song “America The Beautiful”, as I’m wont to do at times, since I love to sing and patriotic songs — as well as religious ones — are often particularly beautiful. It doesn’t mean I believe in them, at least not any longer . . . and not for a long time, but they’re pleasing to the ear musically, if not lyrically. So here’s a verse of that song, as rewritten by me at least 10, more likely 15, years ago.

Oh beautiful for specious lies
That shelter capital gains
For the poor and elderly
Who endure financial strains

America, America
Your God damned lies I see
Have replaced thy good with two-bit hoods
And political chicanery

I’ve known for a long time the reality of what this country stands for is far from what most of us were led to believe (read “brainwashed”), but I still feel it’s important to think of those things as aspirational. As Robert F. Kennedy said “There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”

I wish this truly were the greatest nation on the planet, but it’s not. If you think about it, I don’t believe there is such a thing. Different nations lead in different areas of government, economy, and society. There isn’t one that truly stands out as “the greatest”. We can leave that to Muhammed Ali, who really was just that. 😉

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Jingo Bells. Jingo All The Way

How could I know what country I’m in if there weren’t so many flags flying all over the place? The Urban Dictionary defines “Jingo” as “Someone who is extremely and overly patriotic. Differs from regular patriotism in that jingoism is usually more aggressive.”

Jingoism

My . . . aren’t we exceptional, if we don’t say so ourselves.

Call me crazy, but I find it puzzling and borderline offensive to see flags flying all over the place. Flags are appropriate for military installations, vehicles, and uniforms. Same goes for police and firefighters. Even at schools they make some sense, and I have no problem with individuals flying them from their home for Independence Day, Veteran’s Day, and similar occasions.

But Arby’s? Taco Bell isn’t flying one, though I suppose you could make an argument for a Mexican flag being appropriate. The Hat has no flag pole and neither do most businesses in most any city or town. Flying a flag at a business is, I suppose, up to the owners of the business, and they certainly have every right to do so. I just can’t help wonder why it’s deemed so important to continuously announce one’s patriotism or theoretical love of country. If your flag is bigger than mine, does that mean you’re a better citizen than I; that you’re more enthusiastic about our freedoms and liberties, such as they are?

Also, we Americans seem to have forgotten our flag etiquette. In fact, I’d wager the most of the most enthusiastic flag wavers know the least about how one respects the flag. For instance, you are not supposed to wear it as a piece of clothing. Three people come to mind immediately: Sarah Palin; Ted Nugent, and Tomi Lahren. If you fly one at night, it’s supposed to be illuminated, yet I’ve seen many a home with a flag displayed 24/7, and unlit at night.

I’m not claiming to be more — or even as — patriotic as the next person. What I am interested in pointing out is the hypocrisy of people who wear their patriotism on their sleeve (sometimes quite literally) and lay claim to being super patriotic, despite having neither the knowledge, nor the understanding, of proper respect and etiquette with respect to our nation’s flag. When I think of patriotism, I harken back to what Thomas Paine wrote 241 years ago this Saturday in “The Crisis“:

THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.

A phrase from Shakespeare’s Hamlet also comes to mind. I paraphrase:

“The Jingoist doth flag wave too much . . . methinks.”

This overblown patriotism they exhibit is hardly convincing. If they were so damned patriotic, so pure in their love of country which — one might be disposed to think — requires a love of its people as well, it should show in their actions and their relationships with their fellow citizens. On the contrary, most of the loudest chest-beaters harbor a great deal of declared animosity to those they deem as “others”. It’s difficult to see that as something American values ought to exalt.

I learned a long time ago the truly strong are humble, reserved, and quick to help, not hurt others. By the same token, the truly patriotic aren’t likely to brag about or hold their love of country as a weapon to be wielded in a culture war against fellow citizens. As an American, I love my country . . . and I love it more than I love any political party, any religion, or any philosophy of governance or economics. As a human being, I love humanity more than my country, but I was born here and I’ve lived here all my life, so it means a lot to me; nearly everything I’ve ever loved is within its borders. Nevertheless, I don’t need to feverishly wave a flag to prove I’m an American. It’s my heritage, and I’m thankful for it, not proud of something I had nothing to do with.

 


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