Sunday, March 18, 2007

Freedom Isn't Free!

Some words for you:

Reading a newspaper the other day (we'll call it "The Daily News"), I read an article about a fella' who died. At one point in the (fawning) article the man was dubbed "patriotic." To prove this point, the writer explained that the deceased always sang along to the national anthem (with hand over heart) and hung an American flag from his front porch 365 days a year. No other proof was offered that he was patriotic. Correction: NO proof was offered that he was patriotic!

At what point in this country's history (in the land of the free) did we decide that behaving exactly like everyone else indicates national pride? When did hollow gestures (rather than real actions) become the litmus test for determining love of country?

Before virtually every sporting event in America the contest begins only after the national anthem is sung. All in attendance are "required" to stand and remove their head gear. Many go further and place their hands over the hearts. Many sing along. Fine, but in a country that supposedly cherishes freedom of expression, why does everyone behave exactly the same way when it comes to showing it? If the national anthem is sung at Yankee Stadium but you choose to stay seated (while wearing a hat) you will surely be cursed, spit upon, or hit. But why? Because regardless of how much you may love your country's freedoms you are expected to CONFORM while the anthem for the land of the FREE spills from the speakers. Irony? Oh, yeah.

The vast majority of Americans are pleased that the "Pledge of Allegiance" is bleated in public school rooms even though the man who wrote the pledge in 1892 (Baptist Minister Francis Bellamy) did not include "one nation under God." As a TRUE patriot, this religious man recognized that America is one nation under the Constitution! He surely would have been displeased when, in 1954, congress added "one nation under God." But regardless of the text, we have here another example of Americans (small children) being indoctrinated with nationalistic nonsense. Pledging allegiance to America?! I don't know about the rest of you but I'll leave the cultish chanting to the brain-dead and pledge allegiance to NO nation. What does "pledging allegiance" even mean?! Hell, if I get a "better offer" from Finland, The Czech Republic, or South Korea I'll leave America tomorrow! And given the direction this country has moved in the last five years, this doesn't sound like such a bad idea...

But let me be clear here. I do think it's fine to love your country but -how about it, folks- can't we show a little individuality and creativity? After all, it is the LAND OF THE FREE!! Celebrate that fact! If the national anthem is sung at a basketball game, instead of taking off your hat, why not stack three more on top? Why is this unpatriotic? Says who? No one. Instead of asking our kids to place their hands over their hearts, why not encourage them to have fun and place their hands on anything that comes to mind (elbow, nose, teacher's butt). Who dubbed non-conformity unpatrotic? I don't know but I bet he was no fun to be with.

Instead of hanging a flag from the front porch (more tiresome, unimaginative conformity) why not show your country how much you love its freedoms by hanging an enormous ball of aluminum foil or 722 bananas from the front of your home? That's so much more patriotic than a flag, don't you agree? Of course you do.

Finally, in courtrooms across the land (where freedoms are protected) folks are "expected" to put one hand on the Bible, raise the other, and "swear to God." Huh?! What century and country is this? What is the point of this bizarre, ancient practice? Well, it's the same nonsense as with all of the above topics I rambled about. In this country we show our sincerity and patriotism by falling fully in line like brainwashed North Koreans at Kim Jong Il's annual autumn jamboree.

Well, at the price of (slight) social isolation and the moderate stress of "bucking the system," I AM NOT DRINKING THIS PATRIOTIC KOOL-AID! The pressure to conform is ferocious, never-ending, and often irresistible. But each time we do so we sacrifice a little bit more of ourselves and disrespect the very country that offers us almost limitless possibilities for personal freedom.

Rockets red glare,
Paul C. Rosa


Anonymous said...

V for Vendetta said all this better and I don't have to pay late fees with Netflix.


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