I Love (The Idea Of) My Country
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
Last night, I visited Phydeaux Speaks and watched the videos he posted for "Independence Day". Two clips from 1776, then a choral performance of "America the Beautiful".
I actually got all weepy as I listened to the choir.
In spite of being incredibly strange, a lesbian, fat, and "radical" (wev that means) in my political, spiritual, and social beliefs -- I'm also so fucking American that it hurts -- born and raised a Caucasian Lutheran, in a middle-class family, in the "bread basket of America".
I guess you could say that I am living proof that neither "nature" nor "nurture" are solid predicates for assuring consistent output in the product line of society.
I love the idea of a nation where certain basic principles are placed front and center, where the rule of law overrides purely personal prejudices, preferences, and pissing contests.
I adore the notion of a government that is based on the wacky idea that human beings (all human beings) possess an inalienable right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". These thoughts make me absolutely giddy.
I want to live in that country. I want to vote in its elections, and volunteer years of my life in service to its goals, and teach children about its merits. I want to stand up and sing along with others who are hymning its praises.
The problem is, I don't think I'm living in that country right now. I don't know if I have ever actually lived in that country.
When I think back to what the Fourth of July commemorates, I wonder if the Founding Fathers were really attempting to create the dream landscape that I want to make manifest, or whether they were just pissed off about a tea tax.
I suppose it doesn't matter. They were on the cusp of an evolution/revolution of ideas. They were attempting to depart from the countless "old ways" that they had observed, read about, and discussed -- to create something previously unconceived.
I think the greatest gift that each American could give their "nation" on this, its 231st birthday, would be to re-commit to that (r)evolutionary process.
I think that Hancock, Jefferson, Adams, etal -- jumped off some kind of cliff. I believe that at least some of them attempted to create a structure that could anchor itself in some type of profound truth, yet remain flexible enough to accommodate the inevitable shifts of culture.
I believe that we are still in the free-fall of their leap.
And if that's so, an anchor may be entirely the wrong metaphor. What we need is a kite, or a wing, or a flying suit -- something stable enough to help us negotiate the up/down-drafts and thermals at hand.
When I read the news, and the bitching about the news, I try to remember that "my" country is actually still young. The Roman Republic lasted 500 years before it morphed into the Roman Empire, which lasted another 500 years. (Not that I prefer either of those models.) I often think of the USA as a gawky teenager -- pushing its weight around, popping its zits, and trying to figure who/what it is.
I often wonder: Am I really an American? The idea of a one-world government that scares the be-jesus out of many people actually seems like a pretty good idea to me, if it were based on valuing all humans, animals, plants, rocks, water, etc., and the good 'ole Earth itself.
Then, just about the time I'm wondering this, I get all verklempt while listening to " . . . for purple mountain's majesty, above the fruited plain!!" Then I think: "I must be an American -- they have created a plain just for fruits like me."
So, Happy Birthday to the US of A. Today, I celebrate what I think you are capable of becoming.
Here's a copy of Working Out Conflicts: How to Keep Cool, Stay Safe, and Get Along; by Naomi Drew, a tube of Clearasil, and an ID card, just in case you forget who you are -- see right there? -- it has a line of that song I like so much, that you might have forgotten about:
- America! America! God mend thine ev'ry flaw;
- Confirm thy soul in self control, thy liberty in law!
Posted byPortlyDyke at 12:01 AM