The flag is something people love to display in the US. It is everywhere. On tall poles in front of houses and stores, even on shirts, bikinis, flip-flops, totes, you name it. If the surface can be printed, it will at some point sport the red-white-and-blue.
As a new immigrant into the US many years ago I was quite stunned to see this display everywhere and often so insultingly laid out. And I thought the American people to be very deeply patriotic. But after living here for over two decades now, I’ve realized that this isn’t quite true. Many Americans have been lulled into thinking that what makes a patriot is displaying the flag, preferably on more than one surface. It is the singing of the anthem (deceptively difficult piece ranging across two octaves) at ball parks, followed by a beer and a couple of hotdogs. It is magnetic yellow and /or flag colored ribbons on the trunk or side of their car, and catchy phrases. And it seems to be the harebrained idea to wave guns about in the name of freedom.
My daughter told me that she didn’t feel comfortable having to recite the Pledge every morning in school once she joins high school. And I told her that while she had to be respectful and stand, she didn’t have to put her hand over hear heart or say it.
Well, that’s unpatriotic!!!!! You might say.
But it isn’t that simple. When we started learning about how this country was founded, the principles, the ideas, the concept and the reasons behind the final document we were blown away. Much of our homeschooling time was spent discussing, dissecting, understanding, The Constitution. And at that point she and I understood that patriotism isn’t about waving around a flag. It is about understanding the idea behind this document. And we began to realize how far this country has strayed away from the idea outlined by the Framers. The Federal Government has is tentacles so deep in to the business of each state and indeed private citizens by now that those that conceptualized this country and made it real would weep in sorrow if they saw how it is now. It is difficult to raise your hand over your heart and recite the pledge when you see your elected government officials work actively against the wishes of the people they were elected to represent. We are seeing to a far greater extent than ever before how big business is running this country instead of the people. And what do patriotic Americans do? Choose to remain blind.
While her father doesn’t understand her unwillingness to be blindly patriotic and obedient, I commend her for it.