Recently, I was in discussion with a few friends. The topic of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance before meetings,( having nothing to do with our government,) came up. One friend asked me what had made me feel disinclined to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and my response shocked her. I stated that in my personal opinion, the recent escalation of flag waving by people in our country, had become a symbol of an ideology embracing distrust of elections, distrust of 1/2 of the citizens of the country, racism and hate. I said I feel that the flag itself has been stolen from me by these people, and I didn't feel safe around these new "Flag Wavers." I also said that I didn't want to have people think that I agreed with this ideology when/if I chose to wave an American flag. Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag had become problematic for me. I explained that these days, when I see a pick-up truck driving down the road with an American flag waving from a pole behind it, I jump to the conclusion that the owner of the car is probably not someone I want to know, and that makes me feel sad and unsafe. To be afraid of violence or anger from a fellow American because he/she has the idea that if I do NOT wave the American flag, I do not love my country, is a sad state of affairs! The woman asked me how I would feel if I were in Texas where everyone drives with a rifle in the back window of their pick-up trucks. I don't know how the conversation morphed into that, but I told her I would feel even more afraid! Guns are used to strike fear in other people. They are used to kill living animals, and they are dangerous. She thought I was nuts! This all got me to thinking. The reason we Americans are all so anxious right now is that we are all afraid of each other! The guns and flag waving are out of fear that "the other side" wants to take away things in people's lives they hold dear. Those of us who do not have guns for self defense are afraid of the people who DO have guns because we worry they think we might be their enemy and get angry enough to shoot us! We are afraid of a virus we cannot see or anticipate, afraid of wearing a mask and angering someone who thinks mask wearing is stupid, afraid of someone who won't get vaccinated, afraid to BE vaccinated, afraid to be shot at the movie theater or a concert, or driving in a car on the freeway. Our country is a work in progress that holds a great deal of promise. Life and happiness and safety are never guarantees however, no matter where you are born to live. Democracy, like a strong marriage, takes a LOT of work! Fear is tearing at the fabric of our national symbol as it is undermining our national ideology. One out of Many, E Pluribus Unum, is an aspiration, but it can never be taken for granted. We are not "one" right now. My question is, have we ever been?
About three weeks ago I read an article published in the local neighborhood newspaper, that gets delivered to every home (whether residents will read it or not.) It was written by a woman on behalf of the local Republican Women’s Club. In it she vented her rage about the “fraudulent election,” in the United States, how she was terrified that “Socialism” would take over this country. She said it was a “Call to arms” to “Take back our country!” The next day there was a paramilitary siege on the Capitol building in Washington D.C.
I will say I am not a registered Republican. I will also say that I have many colleagues who are registered Republicans. I don’t hear this kind of rhetoric from my friends. I found this letter deeply troubling! The land we inhabit that we call the United States of America does not belong to Republicans, Democrats or indeed even the United States government.
We all live here. Our elected governors make laws about how we are to live together on this land, the elected President either signs the laws or does not. The Supreme Court judges hear challenges to the laws and decide whether they are legal under the Constitution. European immigrants brought with them the concept of property ownership. They used it as a way of taking land for themselves and then fighting the native people to keep them from hunting or fishing there. Our European ancestors created businesses and sold parcels of this land for profit. But in the end, this country we now call the United States of America is a European system.
Before the Europeans came here, millions of other people lived here. They were here for over a thousand years before this “new world” was set upon by European conquerors. It was not a new world to the residents! Although the people living here then followed their food sources and moved around, they fought for resources with other tribal groups just the way that the first people have done in every land on earth. They never thought that the land belonged to anyone!
I am a descendant of both the native people who lived here and of the immigrants who came to stake their claim to this land, killing and decimating everyone and everything that stood in the way of what they considered their “right” to claim this land as their own. I am descended from slave owners who fought with the Confederate Army against the United States in the Civil War, and of people who fought in defense of the United States on behalf of the Union Army. I am about as American as I can be! My European ancestors came to this land in the 1700s, mixed and mingled with the native women and so started a new mix! And my Native American ancestors were here long before then.
Nobody can claim they own the United States of America! It is land that is populated by millions of people, and all of them came from immigrant families. Everyone migrated here from somewhere (even the native people who were here before the Europeans.) Some family lineages have been here far longer than others, but the government that we now live with has changed over and over again as boundaries have been fought over, and islands taken as our country’s territories.
I love this beautiful continent. It is my home land. For anyone to claim that this country only belongs to 1/2 of the voting population outrages me! I want this country to continue and to evolve in ways that will help us to live up to the aspiration in the Pledge of Allegiance “One nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
I awoke from a vivid dream last night. In the dream, I was running toward some friends with a device that was some sort of bomb. My plan was to let it explode, and take me out on the way. But in the dream, I realized that was not what I wanted to do after all. Despite the problems I have been experiencing in my life (and in the dream) I want to live and make my life better!
I have been depressed over the realities of deaths of dear family and friends, disability of close family member, family members being at odds, beloved dogs dying and leaving a huge void, bonding emotionally with others and having them suddenly leave and losing that closeness, business struggles… I have allowed these events to pull me into a very dark place and I have spent the last several months feeling hopeless. (The bomb)
But after a strangely unsettling visit to a psychologist, I realized that I don’t want to allow myself to feel hopeless any longer. Just because things aren’t great doesn’t mean that they won’t ever get better. I got overwhelmed by the sudden confluence of sad events, but that doesn’t mean the future will continue to be bleak and unrewarding.
I don’t need to make any major changes in my relationships. I’m fine the way I am. I just need to work on building new ones to fill the voids. The dream felt like an epiphany. A weight was lifted from my heart. It’s strange how something like that can happen, even when you’re sound asleep. What a blessing that sleep was to me last night.
I had a few thoughts this afternoon as I sat pondering the current inequality of income in the United States of America. It led me to another mental meander. Our country practices its own form of human sacrifice. It takes a lot longer, and I believe has a much greater length of suffering than the sudden deaths practiced by ancient people.
While there has been strong opposition to abortion, there seems to be no end to the ability of our “conservative” leadership in this country, to do their level best to ruin the lives of those who they deem to be unworthy.
One example is to withdraw all social support for people who for one reason or another, have been unable to climb the economic ladder of success. Take away food stamps, health care, public transportation funding, free access to anything that smacks of taking care of another person. If they can’t pay for it, it should be denied! It’s not the “taxpayers’ problem!”
Another example is encouraging so may young people from uneducated, poor segments of our society to jointhe military, where they are shot at, bombed, terrorized, and if they are lucky enough to return home, brain damaged, or psychologically damaged. Then to top it off, there is little opportunity to get help re-connecting to ordinary civilian life. Soldiers and their families become impoverished in so many ways, and then they are cast adrift to figure out how to survive on nothing!
“Right-To-Life ” is really right to birth, not right to life! There is so little support for babies and older children whose parents have no means to care for them. Children born to parents who cannot afford to care for them get nothing!
We need to see this for what it is; alternate human sacrifice. We don’t prevent the births, but we do prevent the lives!