Wednesday, May 2, 2012

that's why flags are such ugly things

Taking off yesterday to decompress and think and plant, reading Dorothy Day to get some perspective as to the living out of principles, because I have no use for platitudes, have seen too much to be an idealist, and want to know what the hell I should be doing or how I should be responding to the way that things are going here.

I can see through this expression
And you know I don't believe...

 We have a short historical memory as a country. The same things that are said about people in the Middle East are what was said about the Japanese sixty years ago, and it's often forgotten that FDR signed an executive order to intern thousands of citizens based solely on their race rather than anything else. To this day, there is next to no evidence that any of these people detained who lost almost everything were doing anything wrong or "unpatriotic."

But they hate us. You can't reason with people who blow themselves up for a cause. 

That is what was happening, right?   Kamikaze pilots were the suicide bombers of the 1940s. Kids were raised to die for an ideology if need be. People still justify the nuking of two cities, and no one remembers the devastation of the firebombing of Tokyo. Now things are more or less okay between our two countries, if only because history on both sides has been swept under the proverbial rug.

And we love to wear a badge, a uniform
And we love to fly a flag
But I won't
Let others live in hell
As we divide against each other
And we fight amongst ourselves

And I'm reading about police brutality, about scapegoating of anyone and everyone for the convenience of having a bogeyman, because in every movement, be it animal liberationists, Occupy, pro-lifers, whatever, there will always be unstable violent people that make everyone else look bad.  The faces might change, the movements have different names, but these principles are still the same.

Man's freedom stems from his free will, and he must respect the freedom of other men because they are made to the image and likeness of God and are temples of the Holy Spirit. To build up fear of other men is to build up hatred too. "Perfect love casts out fear." Such a witch hunt as has been set loose in the country today, serves to distract the mind from our own militarization and enslavement, our growing materialism, and to set us in the self righteous position of rooting out the evil in other men, paying no attention to the beam in our own eye. It is always so satisfactory to find a scapegoat on which to heap our sins. During the depression it was the international Jewish bankers. Now it is the communist.

And depending on what side you are, this scapegoat could be someone with an Arabic last name, the crusty punks on the public square, or the evangelical Christian with some weird views on fetuses and how the world came to be that you read about on the Internet and revile because you don't actually know any of these people in real life. 

The teacher is afraid to speak of interracial justice, of peace, of social justice these days, for fear he may be considered subversive. Loyalty oaths are beginning to be required at some state universities before a speaker can give an address to the students. This last month, Fritz Eichenberg, Quaker, who does magnificent illustrations for The Catholic Worker, refused to take the loyalty oath at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn where he teaches. I suppose that means he loses his job. One must accept voluntary poverty these days to keep his integrity.

I used to roll my eyes at this rhetoric when I was in college, but then I see this fly the flag and show your loyalty to the state business that's been resurrected and it starts to not seem so crazy after all. I stopped saying the pledge long ago, because I don't need to pledge allegiance to anyone's damn flag, because what it stands for goes against everything that I believe, cultural religious trappings be damned. One nation under God? The whole damn universe is, not just us, and not everyone believes in said higher power anyway. Liberty and justice for all? Ya think? And so I live here and obey the laws that don't go against my moral code and do my best to treat others the way I'd like to be treated, treat the land with respect. In theory this should make me a good citizen, but I'm sure that others would dispute this.

The occupied countries became the occupied countries because people were terrorized into saying yes, when they should have said no. Hitler and Stalin, Mussolini and Franco--this is the age of repression and McCarthy, in the guise of fighting Communism, is finding it in any honest criticism of the status quo?

Neither system proposed by the overlords or the economists or the protestors is working. Humans as a rule are broken, and therefore it's inevitable that our systems are too.

Angry words won't stop the fight
Two wrongs won't make it right
A new heart is what I need
Oh God, make it bleed
Is there nothing left?

1 comment:

  1. If you hadn't stolen that crusty punk's soul, maybe I could take you seriously.

    Down with isms, up with some people.