Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Let's Talk About Patriotism

Let's talk about patriotism.

Why not? Everyone else is.

(Well, everyone who's not obsessing over tonight's big showdown between Kobe and Shaq, that is.)

Historically, my heart tends to bleed.

And, at previous points in my life, I've viewed symbols like the American flag, the National Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance as gross reminders of all that was promised and never delivered. I'm not alone in that feeling. Disenfranchisement is contagious when the Joneses are 20 paces ahead of you and the Smiths are standing on your throat.

In the most recent years of what some would call my adulthood (it's a generous label for me, I know) I've taken to referring to the United States as the Grand Experiment.

In one breath, it is remarkable. Stunning. Mesmerizing. The absurd ascendence to the top of the world's moleheap in such a short amount of time despite nearly being ripped completely apart from within. The evolution toward the potential spelled out in its founding documents. The sheer vastness of all of it.

In the next breath it is puzzling. Incomplete. Exasperating. The lack of governmental courtesy/empathy (see: no apology for slavery). The ongoing double standard in our criminal justice system (see: Rockefeller Drug Laws). The half-assed intrusion into foreign affairs (see: do I really need to list these for you?).

For me, there are moments when it is cool as hell to live in the United States and there are moments when it is downright embarassing. On the whole, after 230+ years, I think there are more moments that inspire the coolness than there are that evoke the embarassment. Which, I believe, counts as a better than fair success rate if you buy into the notion of the Grand Experiment.

Does that make me a patriot?

Probably not.

But it does make me an American. For some better. For a lil bit of worse.


And tomorrow.

Which, I trust, will inch all of us closer to that deferred dream.

'Cause if it doesn't, then I'm moving to Saturn.

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