Summer and the Shadow Mountain Moon
Sunday gratefuls: The U.S.A. The military. Seoah, who’s birthday is today. Joe. Kevin. Murdoch. Mary. The Johnson sisters. Ruth. Jon. Gabe. Safeway pickup. Rigel, whose bladder is apparently less controllable. I can relate.
Sparks of Joy and Awe: The ideals that strain and pull this country toward a better self. Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. All equal before the law. Send me your tired, your poor. The better angels who walk amongst us.
O, my beloved country. What has happened to you? The termites and cockroaches, the murder hornets. Eating away at the foundation, carrying disease from city to city, stinging our democracy with intent. Make America Great Again has become the loudest double speak of my lifetime. An oxymoron wrapped in a seditious sandwich of white supremacy and Nazism.
When Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, and the Klan gain an entire political party for their very own. When the Presidency has become no longer a bully pulpit but a pulpit for a bully (yes, 45, not 46). When the long march of cries for justice washes up against a solid line of parked, multiple flag bearing pick up trucks. Trucks with gun racks for automatic rifles and the second amendment sewed into the lining of their seats. When the Supreme Court stands with vote restrictors, vote nullifiers. What then?
Can I hear the Star Strangled Banner the same way? Knowing whose hands are over their hearts. Can I see the fireworks with the same quiet pride? The Mark Twain sort of patriotism I learned as a child. The one with a wry grin, an embracing of the many, a paddleboat with bunting carrying us toward a future more just, more diverse, more global than our present.
I’m proud to be an American. To live in the U.S.A. Yes, Nashville. I am proud. Not over against China or Russia or the terrorists who infest the politics of the Middle East. No, I’m proud of the land that stretches from sea to shining sea. That gives the working person tools to fight. That stands at Stonewall, that allies with folks gathered around George Floyd, that wants the E.R.A. to finally pass.
Yes. That one. That America. Where we use our power to lift up, not push down. Where the defense of the nation lies firmly under civilian control. Where justice is not the criminal justice system, but the justice justice system. Where kids play baseball in the street, basketball, hell, even soccer. The America of the road trip. Nights in cheesy motels, meals at truck stops.
The America I love is the same one, the exact same one, in the hearts and dreams of the refugee pressing to cross our border. To live here. To work here. Someday to vote here. A place where life has promise and possibility. Of the immigrant standing in line, waiting, wanting. That’s the America I love.
It is, in fact, the America of my son and his wife. My Calcutta born son and his Busan, South Korea born wife. The America he believed worth fighting for when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center. The America she believes in enough to spend hours everyday learning English and studying for her citizenship exam. That America, their America, that’s the one I love. Yes, still.