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5/30/11

Memorial Day

My father served during three wars and was part of the action in the Pacific Theater on LST (Tank Landing Ship) 842I grew up saluting the flag and saying the pledge of allegiance.  
Now, like Hebrew National hot dogs, I answer to a higher authority and am decidedly unpatriotic. 
I think patriotism [= I am right and you are not] is responsible for so many wars. You must think, believe, sound like, and look JUST LIKE ME. If you don't, I might have to kill you and count myself right in doing so. I might even have to manufacture something to justify it (you worship the wrong god, drink baby's blood, or have weapons of mass destruction for instance.). The Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. undoes me - because I feel inescapably responsible. How can I not? Reflected in the polished stone, behind all those names - is my face


Once I stopped with my anam cara (soul friend in Irish) in LA to visit friends of hers from Africa. I did not know them and aside from some minimal courtesies in English the conversation was entirely in French, of which I understand about five words. 
I sat there eating peanuts, listening for one of my five recognizable French words, and wishing my headache would go away; then suddenly I started crying uncontrollably; I went through all the napkins on the table and a good portion of a roll of toilet paper, unable to stop.  Turns out they were talking about their village being overrun with soldiers, families separated, people killed. One of their daughters was still in Africa and they were hoping she was safe. 


The distinct impression was that God let me touch just for a nanosecond a minuscule portion of His grief  over what we do to one another - in His name. A whole other story - kind of. Because religion and power and patriotism are an [unholy] trinity that millions have died for and from.
Even though I have heard this said by some Christians, I still haven't found the passage in the Bible that says that America is God's chosen country and we (Americans) are his chosen people.
Remember Shadrach, Meshach and Abendago and their refusal to show patriotism (bow down/worship/pledge allegiance) to the king of Babylon?  Just saying...

Patriotism is a virtue of the vicious. Oscar Wilde


Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism — how passionately I hate them! Albert Einstein


Nationalism is our form of incest, is our idolatry, is our insanity. "Patriotism" is its cult. It should hardly be necessary to say, that by "patriotism" I mean that attitude which puts the own nation above humanity, above the principles of truth and justice; not the loving interest in one's own nation, which is the concern with the nation's spiritual as much as with its material welfare — never with its power over other nations. Just as love for one individual which excludes the love for others is not love, love for one's country which is not part of one's love for humanity is not love, but idolatrous worship. Erich Fromm


Conceit, arrogance, and egotism are the essentials of patriotism. ... Patriotism assumes that our globe is divided into little spots, each one surrounded by an iron gate. Those who have had the fortune of being born on some particular spot, consider themselves better, nobler, grander, more intelligent than the living beings inhabiting any other spot. It is, therefore, the duty of everyone living on that chosen spot to fight, kill, and die in the attempt to impose his superiority upon all the others. Emma Goldman


True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else. Clarence Darrow


Wouldn't it be nice NOT to have to have a Memorial Day?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for letting in the day, for thinking deeply about it, and for your compassionate stance.

    ReplyDelete