Friday, June 30, 2017

Freedom to Sit Down

I was enjoying myself at the ballgame this evening.  Perfect weather, a nice wine cooler, fun company in the surrounding seats.     Then over the P.A. came the traditional downer: "Please stand for our national anthem."

And it just...bothered me. I hate the song.  I hate the ritual.  I hate the obligatory nature of the whole thing.

To me, to be required to stand and project a degree of fealty I might or might not feel,  to a scrap of cloth, to a nation in moral crisis, at a public event that has nothing to do with that aspect of life, is vulgar in the extreme.  Bordering on fascist. 

How does this differ, I thought, from children being forced to pray at public schools?  What is the difference, really, between religion and the type of group-think nationalism that masquerades as "patriotism" in 21st -century America?  Why is it perfectly okay--desirable, even--to require members of the public to demonstrate an "acceptable" degree of love and loyalty for the country in which they reside at any and every public gathering, political or otherwise?  How is this any different than requiring school children to gather and recite prayers at the beginning of the school day, to demonstrate proper subservience to a God in which they may or may not believe?  Why is one (properly) unconstitutional, while the other is not only acceptable, but very nearly compulsory?      

The degree of love, devotion, and/or loyalty I feel to the country of my birth is a very private matter; it's something that lives in my soul.  It's nobody's business.  I fail to see why "tradition" requires me to demonstrate rote patriotism before I can watch a ballgame in peace, or be the object of scorn, derision or worse.

It's so much easier to stand and stare at a scrap of decorated fabric, slap one's hand over one's heart and mouth the words to an impossible song with gusto...than to really study and understand the foundations of the nation we call our own; to require it to live up to its pedigree; and to be disappointed when it doesn't. 

Surely in this land of the free and home of the brave, we are meant to be free to do that? 

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