Thursday, September 11, 2008

God Bless America

Today is an anniversary, and not a happy one. Because of events that happened in 2001 our nation has been twisted and torn away from what it used to be. Many of us stand in the challenge, some of us live in fear, and like the person who wrote on "Post Secret", some of us took opportunity when we saw it and ran away from our former lives forever.

A renewed patriotism rolled over our collective hearts and we sat a little taller, voted a little more, took a harder look, looked away a bit more often, found compassion in being lowered, and felt empathy, some for the first times in our lives.

I am a child of the fifties, granted the late fifties, but still the era of hula hoops, metal skates, staying out until the street lights came on playing Man From Uncle, and practicing "duck and cover" during school. I remember sitting on top of the hill where we lived. I was in first grade and I could see all the way (about 2 miles!) to the ocean. I also remember the fear I felt during the "air raid drills" and when the Marines from Camp Pendleton exploded their bombs off the coast. I saw the clouds from those bombs and their shapes and the boom. It is still there in my head, even now.

I remember sitting with the grown ups and hearing "gloom and doom" stories, prophecies that insured that I would never grow up, and if I did, more than likely I would never have kids of my own... the world would have been over by then and we would be living in a post apocalyptic scene reminiscent of The Road. I remember families, hippies, protesters, and the Marines all in the same place, all fighting for the same exact thing and the only one who seemed to see they were all on the same side were the grade school kids. Everyone loved their country and freedom, all were expressing it their own way, which as a kid I thought was o.k. to do, and yet everyone was opposed and angry and pointing fingers at each other as if the other one did not care. No one listened to the others. The point that day was no one liked war, no one.

I can remember hushed tones when mothers talked quietly consoling a friend who's daughter was "in trouble", or young boy who went to "juvi". It was sad when the family down the street suddenly had a "broken home" and their dad moved across town. It was shameful and unexpected when we found out that Mr. Simpson had cheated on his wife. It was shocking when we found out our President had broken laws and bent truth, and it hurt when he defiantly stood and told us he was not a crook. We took it personally. It didn't matter which party we belonged to, he betrayed all of us.

We went to churches and worshiped our Gods, and we had a lot of them to choose from -even back then. We wore play clothes and school clothes, work clothes and dress up clothes, and on our respective Sabbaths, we wore our "best" in respect for our God. We said please, and thank you, held the door open as we walked through it, and stood as the flag went by. Their were some kids in my class who had religious beliefs that did not allow them to pledge allegiance, so they quietly sat. Other kids silently prayed each morning as they came into the class. No one ever said a word either way. We knew and understood right and wrong.

Time went by, no bombs were dropped, Russia became our 'friend', a wall came down in Germany; and my memories of the black and white movie that showed people running and crying while a radio voice pleads, "This is Hungary calling! This is Hungary calling!" softly began to find a quiet spot in my brain. (although writing those words causes my eyes to tear again) Little children no longer say "Booooombs over Tokyo!" when they drop a water balloon on their friends from the upstairs window. They no longer decide who is first by using racial epitaphs in sing songy voices. I don't know a kid who can tell me who Bazooka Joe is; or who can identify the dimple on a coke bottle and why it had significance. We found out JFK had a girlfriend on the side, but by the time we found out, no one was shocked any more.

Progress. Good and bad, and we sort through it to try and find the best and to be politically correct. This has worked, in my opinion, very well for about 90% of life. I am bad with math, my percentages could be wrong. I like that we no longer use racial slurs without thought. I await the day when someone can be nominated or elected and gender, religion, or race will not even be in the headline, it will be a moot point. I am sad however that some things have gone the way of the dinosaur and will never come back.

I feel we, as the most blessed nation on earth, have become spoiled, complacent, apathetic, and willing to go with the flow. We have exchanged our moral agency to become followers in the Church of the Feelgood and Happening Now because we are afraid of being politically incorrect or hurting a friend or family member because of our/their choices. We have lost sight of right and wrong through amazing shades of gray. I do not and will not ever condone abusing anyone for their race, religion, creed, or lifestyle. I believe firmly and allow all people to worship who, what, and where they may. I expect others to allow me the same. I also believe we still need to act morally. We currently live in fear of those who "educate" us, instructing us that what was correct 5 years ago is now simply a moral issue and therefore cannot be put into the calculation for decision making. If a answer or solution has a moral aspect it is now discarded.

I am melancholy today for many reasons. The anniversary that causes too many questions still unanswered, a war that lingers on and a debate over that war that only history and time will clear up, a society that lives by safety colour codes and diminishing constitutional rights for security sake. I am sad for leadership with cloudy backgrounds and immoral precursors, and that it seems we can't swing a cat at any of our choices without some suspicion. I wonder if my vote really counts and if it does, I am damned if I do, damned if I don't in regard to which chad I punch through. Most of all, I am tired of living in fear. Fear of other nations, fear of our own leadership, fear of voicing my opinion, fear of offending the popular kids, fear of being afraid.

One thing remains. I still have moral agency. I still have obligation. I still have choice and responsibility. I still live in the best nation, albeit a messy one at the moment. I still can raise my voice in those things I think are immoral or unlawful. I can still have an opinion no matter how biased or unfair, no matter how religious right or liberal left I am. I can still write a letter, make a phone call, sign a petition, and ask others to do the same. I still feel the hand of the Lord in my life. I still feel an obligation to God and my fellow human beings. I still feel accountable to God for how I treat people and the earth and those things I have been given stewardship over. I still feel that prayer is real and that it works, and that all things are for our benefit.

I still feel the need to say God bless America, and mean it deeply.

add to sk*rt

18 comments:

The Pea said...

What a great post. I considered writing today and could not come up with the words. I am conflicted with my nephew's birth on this day . And am torn between the life he could have had if I could mark this day with just a birthday.

thank you for putting to words all of the emotions I could not, I am right there with you, it is nice to know I am not alone!!

S'mee said...

Oh Pea, Celebrate with enthusiasm! What a joy and hope that little guy brought that during that day of gloom! Have a piece of cake for me!

maren said...

What a beautiful post. I don't have any words to add to what you have written. Our world, our nation and it's current conditions have been on my mind today. We are doing our best to get our individual home in order and to teach Reilly the gospel. I feel that if enough people do those things, then the larger problems will take care of themselves.

S'mee said...

Maren, I hope for those same things. Thanks.

Kathy P said...

I love this post! I love how you write! I felt my emotions stirring as I read your words and I proudly stand with you in your opinions. Thank you.

Rynell said...

Loved this post.

The Hobbit said...

S'mee....thank you for all you said.It reinforces the belief that we are what we are TODAY and must all take tiny steps to make tomorrow better.You are worthy and we are grateful for your comments.

S'mee said...

Wow! Thank you so much everyone, I value your opinions, especially in this regard. Again thanks Kathy, Rynell, and Hobbit!

Boy Mom said...

Beautiful you are a really amazing writer.

S'mee said...

Thank you Boy Mom, you flatter me!

Lisa M. said...

This is the best post of the day. I couldn't articulate anything for my 9/11 thoughts.

I appreciated this one.

Thank you so much.

Paul M. said...

Wow, this post was very deep. I can so tell that you're a like-minded soul! Not many people seem to be perceptive enough to see many of the frustrating illusions, and problems which you so elegantly wrote about. It seems we're loosing our country sometimes, and for what? I'm so glad that I'm not the only one who sees it.

Thank you!

S'mee said...

Lisa and Paul, Thank you both for your kind words.

Robyn said...

Good post sis! I just haven't had the time or energy to post!

Alison Wonderland said...

I'm ashamed that I didn't write a post to commemorate. This is beautiful.

S'mee said...

Thanks Robyn, you have your hands full lately.

Alison, I don't think it's mandatory at all and frankly I didn't even start writing this post until the day was half over...it just kind of hit me. Thanks for your kind words.

Molly Doe said...

Thank you, this was quite poignant.

S'mee said...

Well, thank *you*! Miss Molly! Welcome!