Monday, July 3, 2017
Week of 07/03/2017
Once upon a time I used to have pride in my country. I used to treat the Fourth of July as a time of celebration. I used to treat all my holidays that way when I was a kid, even the ones that weren’t always holidays. Even the ones that were only special to me, like my birthday. I used to get excited about those days. I used to do countdowns in my head of how long before they come around again. The only exception was Valentine’s Day. That day died a premature death in my head back when I was a child.
But as I got older and life began to kick me again and again, I started losing that sense joy and awe when it came to these holidays. My birthday, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Thanksgiving, Easter, Halloween... there was no joy in these days to me like there used to be when I was a child. They all joined Valentine’s Day in the graveyard of days that had no real meaning to me.
Sadly, I have to admit that the Fourth of July has joined the other days of celebration that has no real meaning anymore.
I wish I could say I love my country. I used to be able to. Even when the people in office were corrupt and abusive, I could always convince myself that “the country” itself remained. That the ideas and concepts that make America what it is were still there, still in place, and still functioning.
Today, though, I’m not too sure.
Patriotism is love of country. There is no other way to define it. You have to feel that love in order to say that you are a true patriot. Anything less is a lie. This is not something that you can impose on other people. You cannot force other people to love their country any more than a stalker can force their victims to love them.
This is why jingoists and phony patriots are the worst kinds of Americans, because they are nothing more than glorified deranged stalkers, demanding something of others that can never be possible. You cannot force other people to love you. You can get them to fear you. You can get them to hate and have disgust for you. But you cannot force them to feel something that they don’t have for you.
Once upon a time, I used to be in love with an idea that often took the form of a person. It took me a long time to realize that what I was feeling was not love for that person, but for the idea. And I realized it when I accepted that what I was feeling was not being reciprocated by that person. I wanted it to be real, but the person whom I associated that feeling with didn’t. And that’s a painful realization, followed by the mental severance of the person from the idea.
This, unfortunately, is the kind of feeling I’m getting when it comes to what I feel about America today.
I love the idea of America, of individual freedom and opportunity and potential to excel and grow.
But let’s get brutally honest here… that idea does not match what we have right now in this country!
We are *not* the “freest nation in the world”. We only delude ourselves that we are, because to admit that we are no longer that means that we have to do something to fix it, and we don’t want to do that.
The so-called “American dream” used to mean home ownership. But how many of you own your home outright? If you have a mortgage, then you do not own your home. The lending institution owns the home, and they allow you to stay there only as long as you keep paying them. And then, when you’ve paid off the house and you physically and legally and actually own your home, you are convinced to once again put yourself back into their enslavement.
Same thing with your car. How many of you own your car outright? Do you actually have the title of your car or is it in the possession of a lending institution? If you don’t have the title, then you do not really own that car. And then once you do have it, you’re convinced to sell it and put yourself back in that situation again where you are enslaved to the lending institutions.
Tell me, where is the freedom in any of that?
Healthcare in America is not a right. It never has been a right, as much as we would wish it to be so. From its inception in this country it has been a matter of financial privilege. And right now we have corrupt and sadistic politicians working in blatant collusion with wealthy insurance companies and wealthy hospitals and wealthy pharmaceutical companies to decide just how much of a privilege it will be for the rest of the nation.
We are engaged in wars around the world that have no real end to them. Wars that would supposedly be fought there “so they wouldn’t be brought here”. And yet they did come here. Some of them never left. Because what we are fighting is a tactic, not a person or a country or even an ideology. And if we ask for an end, we are accused of being “weak” or “in league with the enemy”.
Our supposedly “unalienable rights” can be watered down and carved away in the name of national security. We forfeit our rights at the airports and are treated like cattle by the airlines.
We have what is essentially a one-party system in our legislature; run by abusive sadists drunk on their own power, and a so-called “alternative” that is so poisonous and so badly corroded by their incompetence that they can only serve as the designated losers in elections.
We have a President of the United States that behaves like a third-world dictator, who is openly hostile to a free media, and whose cult-like supporters take it upon themselves to terrorize anyone who criticizes them. In one instance, one of those red-hat-wearing supporters went so far as to drive hundreds of miles to a pizza parlor to look for supposed sex slaves that did not exist, in a basement that did not exist, based on claims made by a media personality that now claims he is nothing more than a glorified “performance artist”.
We have red-hat-wearing supporters that circulate memes pretending to be constitutional experts, and yet have no qualms about writing up and supporting exceptions to the very document they pretend to cherish. They follow evangelical fiction writers pretending to be “historians” churning up alternative histories of what they think America’s founding fathers “really believed” two hundred years ago so it would support their own delusions of what America today really should be. They follow serial sex harassers and misogynists who spread “alternative history” to support their “alternative facts”, which in any other context would be called doublespeak and blackwhite and condemned as blatant Orwellian brainwashing.
And they demand absolute fidelity and loyalty from everyone they know and everything they see. They want to know where your flag pin is, how many flags are in your front yard, and that you recite a loyalty oath written by a Christian communist. They demand that you show love to appease their own dementia, no different than the religious fanatics in the very third-world nations that they demand we wage eternal war on.
Even worse is when you openly protest what is happening. Politicians want those people to be arrested and stripped of their citizenship, even for those that were born here in America! And the only thing standing in the way of this ultimate insult is a judicial system that the red-hat supporters and even the current President of the United States himself disrespect and condemn at every opportunity.
This is not the America that I loved. What we have today would otherwise be defined in any other nation as fascism, run by a man that suffers from a narcissistic personality disorder, and supported by cultists brainwashed by hate and fear and jingoism to believe that a self-serving political party would be their saviors.
Even our symbols have become perverted. Captain America is now a fascist dictator in the pages of Marvel Comics. Superman is dead in the movies. Supervillains are now American heroes. The greatest symbol for freedom in the movies today is a princess from another nation who worships Greek gods and even that media success is criticized and sabotaged at every corner.
And yet, the only thing we can do right now is wait and hope. Hope that at some point, the mechanizations of that narcissist leader are fully revealed and his cult supporters are able to snap out of their collective delusion.
That’s the funny part about being in love with an idea... even though the actual object may reject you, the idea never can. I still love the idea of what America used to represent, even though the nation itself is seethingly hostile to it. And that’s where the last vestiges of hope still remain.
As dark as it may seem, there is still opportunity to right the badly-tilted ship of state. There is still a chance to bring back real freedom. We saw this before, in nations like Italy. They stepped back from their failed thug leader, and we can too. Hopefully we can get to that point before we face the horrors of a new war that will disgrace us all.