Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Fourth of July

Patriotism is a tough subject for me these last few years with everything that has gone on since 2001. When I was growing up in the late 1960’s and 1970’s most of the people I respected displayed a heartfelt patriotism that recognized both the good and the bad that made up the United States of America. As always, I knew plenty of exceptions to this rule with some people walking around spewing the mindless “love it or leave it” philosophy saying that total robotic obedience was the only way to show true allegiance to this country.

During the 60’s and 70’s when patriotism was typified in optimism and faith in the ideals and principles of the United States and that it could be improved benefiting everyone the country greatly prospered setting the stage for advancements in every walk of American life that echoed across the planet. This idea that everyone could be lifted up so influenced me I spent twenty-one years in the United States military believing such a place should be defended.

Where did this sincere and rational love of country come from? That is for historians and people much smarter than me to debate but hiding in the background were the mindless “love it or leave it” crowd always quick to whine about how certain groups were taking advantage of government assistance programs and moan about the waste of precious taxpayer dollars. To be sure, there were massive examples of waste and abuse but the dirty little secret in all human affairs is that such things cannot be completely avoided.  I have to believe it is far nobler to “waste” money helping people than claim it as a tax write off which is how corporations work the system to help themselves.

This era of rational patriotism ended in the 1980’s for reasons that will also be debated about for a very long time. What cannot be debated though is how the gap between rich and poor began to widen very fast during that time; how proper maintenance on our infrastructure became something increasingly difficult because of refusals of a narrow-mined population to pay for them; along with the basic mindset that greed, ignorance, and selfishness were character traits to be proud of.

It is nice to spend a day proud of our accomplishments as a nation. It is especially easy for those born on third base to be extremely patriotic since the social and economic status quo works exclusively for them. To abuse the baseball analogy even further those on second and first base fight and increasingly tough battle just to stay where they are, only the conveniently available credit cards keep the illusion that they can make to home base in their lifetimes.

So party on America, this is your day and you deserve a break from the economic sands eroding under your feet. The rich may be neglecting their own civic responsibilities but you can pull their weight and your own in such matter as taxes and fighting in the wars the powerful are so eager to start. This land is your land, until its not.


Mr. Charleston said...

It was called maximizing profits. Part of the trickle down crap, AKA... piss on you.

Robert the Skeptic said...

The timing is about right, I was a Republican back in 1980 and voted for Reagan. I worked in private industry; banking. It didn't take me long to discover that the "trickle-down" didn't seep any deeper than the Board Room and within a year I, and many of my friends, were laid off.

When they were young my kids asked me what the difference is between a Republican and a Democrat. I told them: "A Republican is someone who whats a better America for them, their family and people like them - A Democrat wants the same thing... but for everyone!"

I wonder if even that is still true?

squatlo said...

My dad was one of the "love it or leave it" types when I was growing up, and for a while I guess I bought into that philosophy of mandatory patriotism. But as soon as independent thought began to take root I decided the war in Vietnam was a horrible mistake, and protesting that war and civil rights abuses was what drove me to campaign for McGovern in '72. My first vote for Prez ended in the worst electoral defeat in the history of the Republic, at the time.
But anyone who looks at American politics today and doesn't see that one party is all about protecting the wealth and power of the wealthy and powerful, and the other party occasionally steps up and looks out for the common man, well, that person is a partisan hack.
We have a lot to be proud of in America, but a lot of things we should never stop apologizing for, too.
There's so much left for us as a country to accomplish, but we seem to be weighted down with this petty bickering to the point where nothing gets done. At least nothing GOOD seems to get done.
Appreciate your service, man, and hope you have a great 4th!

Pixel Peeper said...

Where did this sincere and rational love of country come from?

Exactly this patriotism is what surprised me when I came to this country in 1980. Patriotism in Germany was something that still reminded people of Nazi times, so "love for your country" was not something that was talked about, it was "weird," almost something to be ashamed of.

And then I arrived here - and flying the flag, thinking (and saying) that you lived in the best country in the world, singing the national anthem, all those things were as normal as kissing your kids or hugging your spouse, just a fact of life.

And I agree - it has changed since the 1980's.

Happy Fourth of July!

Randal Graves said...

Helping people? Your ideas are strange to me, hippie.

Life As I Know It Now said...

I love that Woodie Guthrie song. I like the part where he sings about the no trespassing sign not having anything writ upon it's back side and "that side was made for you and me". How eloquent of him to say fuck you to those with property who dare to say no one else can have access. The Earth is our home and also the home of all of nature. We don't own it anymore than do the birds or the bears or the buffalo do.

Mike Williams said...

over the past few days I've been reminded that independence wasn't for everyone in the United States through our history; Slavery, Japanese American interment camps, gender inequality, etc. I'd like to think that gradually we are getting better at including everyone though the american dream is slowly slipping away into the hands of big money capitalism.

lime said...

the polarization of this nation politically, culturally, and socio-economically is increasingly disturbing. i wonder if we will ever start to work together and get things in order.