Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth!

I love the 4th of July. It's summertime, first of all. And it has a buffet of nostalgic associations with fireworks, mosquito bites, driving home after bedtime in a small-town "traffic jam" on the last thread of my dad's patience, painting patriotic t-shirts, barbecue, marching around the neighborhood with a kazoo, the Stillwater Community Band, sweating in 106 degree 98% humidity weather, and winning silver dollars from the sweet old lady who actually bothered to put on that crazy parade every year.

Having spent the last few weeks motorcycling through the heart of the country and getting high on the sights and smells of farmland (hay, cows, and engine grease; grain silos, oil rigs, and those crazy irrigation sprinklers that spin around and hit the spray so it distributes evenly...) I would like to sentimentally encourage everyone else American to also appreciate the country you live in. It's beautiful. And filled with amazing people. And pretty decent as far as treating us right, when you consider the alternatives.

It's pretty sad that patriotism has come to be associated with Republican ideology, pro-militarism, and the religious-right. Or any political ideology at all. It's ok to think something is improvable, or to be afraid of the path society is taking, independent of your gratefulness for the country you to live in. Maybe this economic downturn, in some small way, will encourage everyone of all political affiliations to reflect on the basics a little more and pull people back into the same boat.