I dont consider myself on overly patriotic man. I dont fly a flag from my house; Ive never served in the Military; but I also dont cheat on my taxes, and I buy things locally if I can, even if it costs a few dollars more. I wanted to jot down a few thoughts about Memorial Day, mostly because its been a long time since Ive had positive thoughts about the United States.
Yes, our culture here in the United States is a consumption machine with an overdeveloped sense of entitlement. Our society was built on the backs of suffering people who were willing to deal with making sacrifice on a level that is probably no longer possible in todays US (more on that below). Yes, politically, the US is further to the Right than any other western democracy, but not all of us are. In fact, our political structure here is so polarized at present that really less than half of us are on the Right. As will soon be apparent, Im a member of the Left, as are most young, educated people in the US. I dont claim to be an expert on US culture, but Ive lived many places here. I grew up in the rural West, and now I live in the Northeast, and for some reason, I seem to date Midwest exclusively. I generally consider myself a pacifist, but I think by the time Im done with this, that assertion could be legitimately disputed.
I live in New York City, quite possibly the most liberal city on Earth. Like more than 60% of New Yorkers, I wasnt born here. Like countless millions before me, the city offered me opportunities as an outside that drew me in. Im surprised by how much Ive changed living here; particularly at my age when I arrived. I was living here 9/11/01, and actually watched the towers fall through the window of my apartment at the time. The city profoundly changed as result, but strangely, I dont think the event had much of an effect on me. I dont know anyone who died, and amazingly, the fact that I slept until 9 that morning kept me from being at the WTC that very day. My first thought was that we were going to go to war with Afghanistan, and we did.
Being a liberal, I was never a fan of the Bush administration, but I did support going to war against Iraq, and I still support that decision today. I didnt think we would find WMDs there; I dont think the resource of crude oil was or should have been the primary objective. What was important to me was regime change, and it is this circuitous route that brings me back to why my thoughts about Memorial Day are musing this opinion essay in the first place.
The US spent the first half of 20th century projecting an ideology globally when it was threatened itself by other ideological projections. It spent the second half protecting that ideology, along with other nation states that chose to accept it some form. In the 21st century, the US has moved to a first strike policy, forcing its ideology onto people and groups eerily reticent of the era of Imperialism in the 19th century. The ethical and moral implications of this shift are worthy of a discussion of their own, but are beyond the scope of this discussion.
To me, the ideology itself is the important issue, and an idea both worth protecting and projecting. This ideology is based around personal freedom and protection from removal of that freedom by anyone, and most importantly by the government. Our society here in the US has many flaws, but our political system isnt one of them. As long as our freedom to act for what we believe in is upheld, we should and must do our utmost to ensure that freedom continues.
The beauty is that we dont have to agree. We have the freedom to disagree without repercussion. Sure it may get heated at times, but as long as our argument doesnt affect safety to life or property, we will be free to project our views no matter what they may be, even if they are as dire as the desired removal of that freedom.
So when your thoughts drift to Memorial Day, I ask you to think about the men and women who felt that ideological projection was so important they were willing to sacrifice themselves for its ideas. Think about how if speech was controlled, a community like Elliquiy couldnt exist. I ask you, not to take up arms in its defense, but to stand with me in protecting its ideas. You dont have to agree with my political views, just realize that without that previous sacrifice from those who believed like I do, our ability to even have political discourse could be entirely curtailed.
Please, stand with me in protecting personal freedom to think and act as we wish as individuals.