When I went to elementary school, I was about the most patriotic kid in my class. A lot of the students at that school were Mennonites who believe in total pacifism. They groused about saying the Pledge of Allegiance. I said it with pride. They complained about singing “The Grand Old Flag” in music class, so I sang it even louder.
Playing army was about my favorite activity growing up.
Around me, the Cold War was raging. We saw film strips in school of a colorful, vibrant West Berlin where people were happy. Then we saw the slide from East Berlin where everything was dark and gloomy, photographic proof of the goodness of us and the iron booted tyranny of them.
We were asked to pay any price and bear any burden in defense of liberty, and I and my 10 year old buddies were ready, able and willing to do that.
We stockpiled army surplus stuff–helmets, canteens, and even a coveted old bayonet–in a bunker we hand dug on my farm (in a convenient gravel pit with loose soil). Let the Russkies come! We were ready . . . partisan, guerrilla war by ten year olds against the Red Army? No problem; we were ready. Bring it on!
But then, little by little, the facade of propaganda started to peel away.
I read in my 6th grade history book about the Opium War with China. The English with their military might forced the Chinese to buy opium. I was certain that the textbook had made an error–surely it was the Chinese who were dealing drugs and the English (you know, people like us) were fighting to stop them.
I was told over and over again that in America I was truly free and in Communist countries they weren’t . . . and I believed it, strongly.
Then I saw these pictures on TV of black folks marching. One of them held up a sign in front of a diner in some place like Birmingham–I’ll never forget it–“Krushchev could eat here, but I can’t.”
Hmmm . . . that was a very good point. Why should a commie be able to eat at a restaurant but a black American can’t?
Then came the Reagan administration–busting unions, Iran-contra, the invasion of Granada for heaven’s sake.
But the final dagger in the back for me was Bush v Gore. When the Supreme Court of the United States can violate everything this country is supposed to stand for–one person, one vote–and tell democracy to drop dead while they install the rich man’s candidate who got fewer votes, that was it.
The reality of what America is, and how far away from what it is supposed to be, was just too much.
You can’t say after Bush v Gore that we’re a good country with good intentions that might not always be able to follow through on them.
You can’t say we’re just a flawed country that needs a little leadership to get back on to the right road.
The evidence is clear and unmistakable–government of the people has been co-opted by government by and for the rich and powerful.
America hasn’t just lost her way, she has been tied up and left for dead.
It’s time to find that country that we believe in and bring her back.
That is all . . . and have a good day.