Daily Prompt I Pledge Allegiance Are you patriotic? What does being patriotic mean to you?

That’s an INCREDIBLY personal question and one I find very, very, very offensive. I lived in China not long after the period in which one either loved the mother country (in a way others could understand) or they were thrown into a tiger pit until they “got the suicide.” EVERY teenager and adult I met during that time REMEMBERED the “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution” (that ended only a few years before) as a reign of patriotic terror. I was privileged to learn piano from a man whose family fled the Nazis because they didn’t fit the “pattern” of TRUE Germans. In sixth grade, I had the chance to sing Spanish Christmas songs to a group of refugees from Franco’s Spain, old and young, who sat listening with tears rolling down their cheeks. My life has been filled with many stories of people displaced or broken as a result of “patriotism.”

One of the most noxious moments of my life was a week after 9/11/2001 when, at noon at my university, everyone was SUPPOSED TO stand in the quad, hand on heart and REMEMBER. Back in that time most people wore little flag pins. I didn’t. I know incipient totalitarianism when I see it.

One of my students walked out of class with me toward the quad. “Where’s your flag pin?” she asked.

“In here,” I said, pointing to my heart. “Where’s it supposed to be?”

She threw hers in the trash.

There’s nothing good about systematized hate, Xenophobia or any other “us vs. them” “mine is better” knee-jerking. It ultimately boils down to the deaths of children, someone’s baby or someone’s 19 year old.

No, I’m not a pacifist, nor am I without ethics or love for the landscape and people surrounding me. I also love the ideals on which this country was founded and they did not include a “Pledge of Allegiance.” If allegiance is deserved, does anyone need to pledge publicly? If you love something, you are engaged in loving it, caring for it, supporting it; you don’t have to go around saying so all five minutes.

Take that, NSA, TSA, CIA or who ever is behind the relentlessly personal questions posing as “prompts” here on WordPress. 🙂

15 thoughts on “Patriotism?

  1. Swearing allegiance smacks of martial law and blind obedience.
    The dictatorships love that sort of thing.
    Super powers wallow in such terminology.
    Guantanamo imprispnment without trial. Torture and mass murders are facilitated by allegiance (blind obedience and unquestioning agents of the State.)
    A State where the guilty General is penalised with a tiny fine and the Private soldier is condemned to 35 years in solitary penal servitude.
    That United States of America just loves conditioning school children to pledge allegiance.
    China et al are great at the blind obedience thing also.
    Every military establishment strive to impose absolute loyalty to orders.

  2. Growing up in post war Europe I never had a problem with others, no matter where they came from. I lived 2 years with a muslim family in Switzerland, no problem. I learned to respect every person as an individual and not as a race. It is a difficult time in Europe with may races fleeing from their homes due to war and uprising, persecution. Discussions arise how to react, what to do, but the right solution never seems to be found.

    • I think the true thing is that it is human relations — Ray Bradbury said every kid in every family in the world should live with a family in another country for two years. That was his answer to war.

  3. Brilliant post! I absolutely agree. And when the sanctimonious Congress added the unnecessary words “under God” later, it smacked of paternalism and religiosity in violation of the establishment cause. It’s none of WP’s business where we stand on the political spectrum or whether we wear our hearts on our sleeves. I will say that I am working on a political campaign. You know where I live so you can probably guess which one. If that isn’t patriotic, I don’t know what is. That I will wear on my sleeve (and have, on my blog). But it’s not WP’s call that made me do it.

    I gave up on the Daily Prompt when they were inane; now they’re getting way too personal and I’m outta here.

  4. I tend to agree. I’m a Vietnam era vet. I volunteered, not because I wanted to kill a commie for Jesus, but because I wasn’t willing to stand up and say those who had already been sacrificed died in vain. But they did. I see (and hear) pseudo patriots on TV and talk radio, and I’m reminded of something I read once, “Wrapping up in the flag is the last refuge of the scoundrel.”

    • That’s a very good saying. It’s true. NO one can attack a person who’s waving the flag because we’re NOT going to attack the flag. I taught a lot of Iraq/Afghanistan veterans after 2002 and some of them will never, ever, ever lead a normal life. MOST of them believed the recruiting ads and the recruiters and went in hoping for a chance at college when they got out. Most of them said NO one mentioned killing or possibly dying; it was all “learn a skill and have a future and be a man” yadda yadda — of course they KNEW they might kill people and might get hurt and/or die, but NO one mentioned it to them. No one said, “Are you ready to risk your life, kill others, shoot mortars into villages and crap your pants in terror for the chance to go to college when you get out of here?” Those aren’t my words. Those are the unforgettable words of a student who was career Army. When he got out the only job he was fit for was becoming a sniper for the CIA. 😦

      • Well, I can tell you that nobody goes into it with their eyes closed. They guys who serve now are there because they wanted to be there. Unlike in my day when guys were drafted. I was the only guy in my boot-camp co. who hadn’t received his draft notice, and I got mine in the mail two weeks after I got to boot-camp. Going into the military to get an education is the only option most of the guys in there had. The problem isn’t with the guys who serve and their reasons for doing so. The problem is with the elected officials who chose to use the military for political purposes and monetary reasons. But the military is still a great way to “see exotic foreign lands, meet interesting people from different cultures, and kill them.”

      • I agree with you that the problem lies with political officials. I’m totally on the side of the kids. It’s sad when they come back for the education they earned and their brains are so messed up they can’t learn anything, and it’s sad that is the only way many of them have to get the chance to go to college. One day my sniper decided it wasn’t dangerous to go ahead and write. He was TERRIFIED of writing class and he couldn’t graduate without it. What poured out of that man wasn’t just well written, it was powerful. I went to college on the GI bill. My dad was a disabled veteran who grew up to be a mathematician and was a war gamer for DOD during Viet Nam. He thought the government made a lot of mistakes and he believed they were making that war for reasons of their own. They ignored good advice and went forward with plans that had a low probability of success. OH WELL. I’m glad you made it back and I’m glad you write your stories.

  5. “If you love something, you are engaged in loving it, caring for it, supporting it; you don’t have to go around saying so all five minutes.”

    Loved this comment! I feel much the same way about religion. I understand my faith and my relationship with God in my heart. I don’t have to do so in a particular church, on a particular day or learn particular prayers. I live it and love it every day but do not choose to wear it on my sleeve like a badge of honor.

    • My feelings, too. I believe some things — for some people — are so deep they are part of their identity. I believe that love of country and love of God (should) fall in that category. I also believe that the desire to belong is stronger for some people than love of God and love of country.

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