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? 

June Pupdate

Age:  Almost 20 weeks
Height:  18 inches at the shoulder
Weight:  28 lbs.
Eats:  3 cups kibbles plus 2 little cans wet food, innumerable pieces of hot dog (her treat for doing tricks) and many crunchy “bonios.”
Favorite food:  She really likes those hot dogs (she’s her father’s daughter, I guess…)

Commands she knows:  We have added “down” (as in “lie down”) to her list of “tricks.”  Now if we can just get her to do it for more than 2 seconds at a time.  I guess “STAY” has to be her next lesson…
Percentage of time she actually obeys commands:  Maybe 65%.  A little improvement in a month.
Favorite toy:  Still Bumble…and he’s still more or less in one piece.  Dirty and smelly, but in one piece.

Nicknames:  Devil-eye Dog, because of the look she gets—whites of the eyes showing half-way around—when she’s about to do something she’s absolutely sure she’s not supposed to do but is by damn gonna do anyway and you’re not gonna stop her.

Today’s story:  The dog has mastered stairs.  Finally.  It took awhile, because she’s not actually allowed to go upstairs in the house (where all the carpeting is…) and the stairs down to the yard are only two hops to the ground. 

When we go to the park, there’s a slide with wooden stairs leading up to it.  For the first several weeks of her life, we’d take her to the park and I would climb to the top of the platform while “Dad” set her at the bottom of the stairs.  I would then proceed to sweet talk and cajole and “C’mon Jo!” until I turned blue in the face…with her looking up at me as if I were asking her to climb on razor blades.  Dad would put her feet up on each step, then hitch her butt up, then repeat, until she got to the top.  She didn’t get it.  Didn’t look like she ever would.

Once at the top, Mom would position puppy to go down the slide, into the waiting arms of Dad at the bottom.  Then Mom would slide down meeting Dad at the bottom where we would then laugh and make much of the puppy.  She genuinely enjoyed the slide part…just couldn’t get a handle on climbing those stairs.
Last week, the light finally dawned;  Matt sent me a text while I was out of town saying she had, inexplicably, climbed to the top of the stairs all by herself.

And now, if we go anywhere near that park, she heads right for the slide, so she can revel in that “make much of the puppy” moment.