I did it. I sat through the presentation of colors, the invocation and the national anthem at a local high school game. I sat, because I love the country I live in. As much as I love it, I am bothered by so much of what I see. I am also bothered by what I see as a near compulsory demand for an adherence to ritual while failing to truly understand, that for many Americans, such rituals ring hollow. It is for them, after much contemplation that I sat.
I sat for the people of Flint, for whom profit mattered more than safe drinking water, for the residents Standing Rock for similar reasons. I sat for those serving long term sentences for minor drug charges while those who commit violent crimes go free. The injustice, often along color lines is an ongoing injustice. Even worse, profit comes into play, when we as a people care more about the bottom line more than our neighbors, I find silent and complacent is something I cannot be. So for those who suffer at the hands of corporate interests, I sat.
I sat for the victims of war…the men and women sent to fight for ideology and control of resources than ignored and abandoned when they got home, damaged, broken, hurting. For all the rhetoric about support for our troops, I find there is less substance than we are led to believe. We spend so much for the tools of war, yet the most important ones, the people we send into harms way, our nation invests so little. We’ve been in some kind of conflict for so long, that a time of true peace, is an unknown.
We send our sons and daughters, expecting them to set everything aside, celebrating what we believe is their patriotic duty to be cogs in the mechanics of war, and we rarely question why.. I am reminded of Walt Whitman’s Drum Taps. The poem talks about the festive celebratory air that often occurs when we prepare for war. There is a line that says:
|The tearful parting—the mother kisses her son—the son kisses his mother;|
|(Loth is the mother to part—yet not a word does she speak to detain him;)|
Whitman proved to be quite prophetic in the lines of his poem as we prepared to invade Iraq and Afghanistan. How many mothers and sons never got to tell each other hello again since? It is for this poignant reasons, that I hate the dark arts of war. We celebrate war through our patriotic rituals, yet rarely stop to count the cost. It is because I feel that the price is too high, that I sat.
I sat for every homeless child, every person working three jobs to make enough to feed their families, for everyone who is a victim of violence, for every person who has been subjected to the hatred of bigotry and racism, and every person who must decide which to pay, rent or medical bills. I sat for every person who came here for a chance for their future and for that of their children, fearful that they will be denied it for lack of a piece of paper. I sat for those denied that chance to even try to come here because they are from the “wrong country” or of the the “right religious persuasion.
I, a white, middle aged grandmother, made a simple patriotic choice and went against the crowd. I am of the mind that we can truly be a country that understands what freedom means, that it is a responsibility, an honor, a purpose, and that we are only free when all of us can be equally so. Until then I will sit.