My version of patriotism is one that FOX would shun. I don’t believe in following any government blindly, regardless of its leader. I don’t agree with most wars. I, of course, was sad about 9/11, but as bad as it might seem, I enjoyed the sense of unity and goodwill that everyone seemed to share around that time. We were all working toward a collective goal, all being the best that we could. I was so proud of us.
I don’t know if we can get there again.
I mean, of course I hope we can. I would love for everyone to feel like we have each other’s backs. I would love it. I haven’t felt patriotic in years, especially after I realize who I become associated with once I say, “I’m American.”
The most popular Americans I know of are people like George W. Bush or Donald Trump. Maybe the Jersey Shore cast, Paris Hilton, or a nation of obese morons who are so asinine that they sue because they got what they wanted. I don’t want to be associated with any of these people. I don’t even like being associated with pilgrims or cowboys, because smallpox blankets are not American in the way that people want to perceive America, but they are most definitely American.
So now, Osama Bin Laden has been killed, and while part of me is ecstatic, the other part isn’t. He was obviously an asshole, to say the least. He helped to kill thousands of people, destroy millions of lives, and create this sense of paranoia and fear in everyone. He made TSA lines unbearable. He wasn’t the only one who did these things, though. He obviously wasn’t in the planes that flew into the World Trade Center. He wasn’t alone. I’m sure they will shortly have another leader, and we’ll have another enemy.
But I am so sick of people dying.
That’s my patriotism. It’s the kind where I love the freedoms provided to me by this country. I love going to sleep, not worried about someone raiding my house or arresting me for saying something they disagree with. I love that the education system was adequate enough to teach me to write, and that I could skip school to legally protest when things were going downhill. I love paying taxes (really, no sarcasm) because I figure it’s supporting my country. I just wish they would use my tax money for improving the education system, finding more sustainable sources of energy and putting them to use, or saving lives instead of ending them.
I realize that I probably sound like some naive hippie who has no idea what she’s talking about when I mention war. I haven’t been to war, I haven’t killed anyone, I haven’t seen what it’s like from a soldier’s perspective.
My dad has, though, and he’s showed me plenty that I would not regard as “pleasant.” I have watched him live with post traumatic stress disorder for my entire life. I’ve been raised by someone who, while he can still tell the difference between the nightmares that haunt him and reality, is sometimes bombarded with memories he would rather not have. I don’t wish that on anyone, and while I’m happy that he raised me (as a single parent, mind you) I’m sure that it would have been easier on both of us if we didn’t have to deal with that.
Now, I have several friends in the military who have children. They have told me their stories in different ways and given me whatever convoluted perspective I do have on war. I get that measures have been taken to prevent and treat PTSD, but I would rather that they don’t have to treat it and that their kids can grow up free of any possible repercussions. That is the main reason I’m against war. Kids should not have to deal with not having parents, or having parents who slip in and out of an inescapable terror.
I don’t blame the soldiers for the things that have happened, I have no right to. I blame the administrations who have commanded (or failed to command) these wars against ideas. No matter what you do, terrorism, communism, and whatever the sin-of-the-day is will all still exist. Killing a leader doesn’t kill what he stood for, it just gets rid of another body and probably provides a bit of closure for some of the people he harmed. Osama was not the idea of radical religion. I’m sure there are people from every religion who take things too literally, who transform blessings into curses. People like that will always be around.
The thing is, us being so afraid is exactly what they aim for. They want us to be insecure and think that they could be around a corner planting a bomb or boarding our plane. Us being afraid is exactly what they want, because it’s exactly what they are.
So please, please stop being so afraid. This applies to everyone. We all have to depend on each other, and it is not admirable to hide. Whether or not you reside in the “home of the brave,” you do live on this planet and can make a difference. Figure out what you’re good at and do it, don’t just sit around waiting for someone else to do it for you. Be brilliant, because each of us has the potential to be the best at something, and none of us will get there without trying.
Make the rest of us proud.