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.