Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Ain't That America

I didn't watch the fireworks yesterday. And this is not because there were none to be had, or that viewing them would be difficult. Though (with any luck) I will soon be a permanent resident of Gotham City, I am still a Washington DC homie, and could have watched the fireworks on the National Mall from my bedroom window if I had wanted to. But I didn't.

For the last year or two--hell, since the inception of this "war" we are currently engaged in--I have not felt particularly patriotic, at least in the "rah rah wave the flag sing 'God Bless America'" sort of way. It's a little hard for me to wear the red, white and blue given the values which my beloved country is currently espousing and for which countless young Americans and Iraqis are being maimed and killed.

The America Dr. King believed in--the country I (still) believe in--stands for something different than torture and lawlessness and greed and arrogance, for lying and cheating and subterfuge. It stands for Equal Justice Under Law, for government of the People by the People for the People; for accountability, transparency and fairness.

It is extremely difficult to maintain one's belief in "the system" when it seems corrupted beyond repair; when no one seems to care, when we all seem to be looking after only ourselves. However, it is in circumstances like these, when things are at their most dire, that we need to dig deeper and keep fighting every day for the America that was promised to us, the America (as Mr. Springsteen so eloquently put it) we carry in our hearts. So because I believe in these things, I will not give up.

There will come a day when this country will be forced to awaken from its greedy, solipsistic slumber (and I fear that it will be a rude awakening). But until then, I will not watch the fireworks, I will not wear red, white and blue, I will not sing "God Bless America," I will not wave the flag. Because though I still love my country (despite all its flaws), to do these things would be a betrayal of everything in which I believe. Because I just don't feel it. And because you just don't lie about patriotism.

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