Friday, November 4, 2016

4 More Days

(finding the path to 270)

Just an anecdote, as we grind through the last few days before the most important election of our lives: 

Our son told me that his sixth grade class went around the room yesterday, telling what they were grateful for. I'm not sure what the context for this was, but I know the talk quickly became political, which shouldn't be a surprise, since our children have been as caught up in all this as we are. 

A couple of the kids said they were grateful for America. One of them seemed especially fervent and, according to our son, rather scolding about it. In other words: you'd better be grateful for America, because we're the greatest nation on earth, etc. 

Which: okay. But also: that's too easy, isn't it.

When it was our son's turn, he said he was grateful for his family, his house and his dog. Then, he added (in a small voice, I'm sure, and with his eyes cast down, because he's rather shy): I'm grateful for America, too. But I'm sorry we're going through such an awful time right now. 

He didn't say he was grateful for Hillary Clinton. (Someone did. Another scowled.) Instead, he acknowledged a greater truth: it is possible to love one's country and hate what's happening to it. Not just hate it for your own sake, but for everyone's. Even the people who disagree with you. 

Patriotism has always come easy for Americans, at least since I've been alive. It's been easy enough for people to fly the flag and reproach others for not loving that symbol the way that they do. It's been easy to take boring things like journalistic integrity, tolerance and civility for granted. It's a wake-up call when you see those norms fly out the window, and not enough people seem to notice or care.

There's a tear in that flag. The threads are showing. I think a lot of us feel it. And, even if my candidate wins on Tuesday, I have no confidence it can be repaired. That's what this election has meant to me. That's what it has so miserably laid bare. How much I love my country. How much I fear it, too.

I am proud of our son for what he said to his peers. I think if we're going to be saved, his generation is the one to do it. 

I just hope we can wait that long. 


the walking man said...

There is a difference between patriotism Jeff and the intense nationalism that is boiling over at the moment. Although both candidates have extremely low approval ratings and appeal to only sections of the broader electorate, a choice has to be made and there is no viable third party option.

So for myself I opted out of the domestic, nationalist rhetoric and agenda's espoused and went on to the international stage and looked to see the kabuki going on there. Putin above all has me concerned, his blatant talk about the use of tactical nuclear weapons is cause for watching him, his moves in Eastern Europe along the borders with NATO members are just a couple of reasons to not have a neophyte in control of diplomacy or the US Military at the moment. China's attempting to subvert US influence in SE Asia and the pivot by the Philippine's and Duterte's ranting and sanctioning of wholesale murder as well as Malaysia's pivot towards China is of concern for the Indian Ocean as well.

I know the nation will weather this most hateful of political seasons, we went through the 30 year run up to the civil war with just as much diatribe on both sides of the aisle, it cost many lives but the nation came out better for having fought it out. I doubt we will see anything on that scale or historical significance again. I am grateful for that. Symbols like the flag, or emblems mean nothing except fr the meaning individuals place in them.

I am not easily swayed by such. I will take correct information without spin or shade over any symbol any day. We will be alright, we will breathe again and when we do if we have not changed them who obstruct and position themselves for their own gain in contempt shame on us. The congressional races are equally important in this cycle. And I am grateful that some realize it.

At 62 I don't think we should wait for your son's generation to rise, they should know peace while they grow. I think it is up to us, the old, the near old and them who are over 18 right now to decide the course of the nation, not pass off the trouble we have today to tomorrow. I would be extremely grateful if we could do that before I pass on.

Charles Gramlich said...

I've never really understood that "love it or leave it" thing. It's possible to love it and still wish it was better.