I have written two different posts in the past few days–both of which, I was too afraid to post. It seems Lisa may not be as “unmasked” as she believed. My new #bff, Peggie, has (ahem) suggested that perhaps I write a series of blog posts to help me with this story that has decided it must be told.
I go back to the post, “What Needed to be Said” as the title of the emerging series. I hope you’ll stay with me to see where it goes. And most of all, please share what is coming up for you. If we are going to heal our deepest wounds, we must give light to our stories. Share them in whatever way(s) we can and know that in doing so, we are helping each other.
And that is the real reason we are here anyway.
This post I wrote about the July 4th holiday in the US:
Proud to be an American.
The lyrics to this song bounced around Facebook today in recognition of the US Holiday.
I always feel like I’m going to vomit when I hear those words.
Not sure if it’s the fact that I hate the song. Or that it’s a country song (sorry, Susan!)
Or maybe it’s the fact that I can’t say that I am..proud..to be..an…American.
I thought it about it long and hard today, and didn’t come up with any easy answers.
I tried to look back in my life to see if there was a time in my life that I was actually proud and after hours of contemplation, I remembered how cool it was to be part of the bi-centennial celebration in 1976. Yeah…then I guess I could actually feel pride in being American.
I remembered that feeling again during the Iranian hostage crisis.
I may have had it when I was in college, since I was attending school on a ROTC scholarship. But, I found the Army to be a whole lot of bullshit most of the time and there was going to come a time when I said as much to the wrong person. I lost my scholarship for medical reasons (more Army BS–it was for a condition they KNEW I had when they awarded me the scholarship) and I was bitter for a long time. (a whole ‘nother story)
The truth is I can’t remember ever having that sense of pride that makes people wrap themselves up in the flag.
But I do remember the moment that I began to see the country differently.
It was my senior year of college during a class called Political Economy. We were studying Third World debt and I would come to see how beneficial it was to America (and others) to keep the Third World..well, the Third World. This along with the Iran-Contra scandal was enough to permanently alter my view of the country I was born in.
And “pride” in it was something I have never experienced it again.
That doesn’t mean I am not grateful for the opportunity to live here. While I am clearly not of the crowd that this is “the greatest country on earth,” I am well aware that are worse places to live. And there are better. And in either case, it’s a matter of perspective.
But today, I was especially disturbed because I really could not find the words to really explain (to myself) why I can’t seem to stomach hearing, that song.
And the Universe delivered this to me. It is a portion of a speech given by Frederick Douglass at Rochester, NY on July 5, 1852 entitled: What to the Slave is the Fourth of July? As I got to this portion of the speech, some of my feelings began to make sense to me.
“What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelly to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy – a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.
Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the old world, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.”
I am wondering if these powerful words are just as relative in our times…
But I know the answer to that. And that’s why, at least for me, “Proud to be an American” is not a song I can sing…yet.
I have hope, that just like me, this country will someday live up to its loftiest ideals.
Maybe we begin by asking the question, “how can we be better?”
That’s what I will be committing to for myself.
If I want this country to be better, to do better, it starts with me.
How can I be better today? (By not hiding my scariest thoughts and blog posts!)