Merriam-Webster talks about being disenchanted. About losing naive faith or trust in something. I think it’s gone beyond that.
I was watching the excellent fireworks in Wilmette last night, and only a few times found my thoughts drifting to the Revolutionary War and America and what it means to be an American. What the fireworks really represent and why we have these huge, expensive displays for our country’s birthday. Mostly, I just watched and talked with a good friend who I hadn’t seen in awhile and just let the other thoughts drift away.
I did, not because I’m afraid of uncomfortable thoughts or cognitive dissonance — no, I’m the one who thinks the National Anthem is beautiful and has always been a fan of hearing huge crowds of people sing in unison BUT think a “national anthem” is weird and wonder if anyone really understands that song, and I hate war and nationalism and jingoism and all that. I’m not a huge fan of the pledge of allegiance, either. So, I’m fine with holding two competing thoughts in my head at once.
The reason I didn’t give it much thought last night was because I didn’t want to be depressed. On holidays like today, I previously have been of two minds — one, that our country has some terrible failings and I think it’s more patriotic to acknowledge them and try to address them than to ignore them, and two, that I am really grateful to have been born here and that we still have a crazy amount of freedom as compared to the rest of a lot of the world, and we have a system that’s really worth working on.
I don’t think I believe that anymore. The same reasons our founding fathers fought against the King are all around us again. I’m also a decent fan of taxes — money to be spent toward the common good — but now I feel that I am being taxed without representation. I feel like the Congress and the President and the Judiciary are not at ALL representing my views, and they aren’t even representing the views of the country at large.
The draconian measures that a small minority are trying to (and succeeding on) impose on the rest of us are shameful and disgusting and wrongheaded and downright dangerous. The way everything in this country is controlled by money and greed is horrifying, especially when there’s always a certain type of person in the control of all of the cash.
There may not be military quartered in our homes, but we have the government in every aspect of our lives — I was wondering when “big brother” would be in a tv in my home, but I didn’t realize that it was going to be the laptop that I use every day. To top it off, the government has taken to using local police forces and using them in ways we previously could not have imagined or tolerated. We are in a *private* prison-industrial complex police state, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better.
And to that end — have you seen the protests around the world the last few days and months and years? We’ve beaten down the Occupy movement, but the Occupy movement should have been so big there was no real way to beat it down. The Occupy movement should have included all of us — myself included — being willing to go to jail and potentially be injured fighting for our FREEDOM.
That’s what this holiday is supposed to be about, right? Getting freedom from tyranny and celebrating all those that went before us that fought for our rights and paved the way for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which we are now watching be obliterated at every turn while we all sit inside on our computers and watch reality TV and continue to be self-obsessed with our weight and relationships and cars.
Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning will turn out to be founding fathers of a new revolution — but they can’t do it alone. I’m not sure what needs to be done, but we need to figure it out and start helping. I wonder if Paul Revere knew what his next move was once he sounded the call. I feel like I’m saying “The government is coming — fuck it, the government is HERE, kicking our asses,” but I don’t even know what the next right action is.
All I know is that I’m not “proud to be an American” anymore. I used to be able to see our bad behavior and still be grateful for all we had here. But our own government is taking that away, and I’m not exactly sure where we can head from here.