Friday, May 11, 2007

I Don't Worship Inanimate Objects


Jay Marvin is intent on "taking back the flag" from RWNJs who use it as a weapon against those who don't worship it as ardently as they. And he's going to "take it back" by worshipping it as ardently as the RWNJs.

Apparently Jay's making bumper stickers and buttons with the red, white & blue that say "It's my flag, too," and he's announced that he and his wife are going to start flying their flag every day.

I get his feelings and intentions completely. I've been sick to death of having my patriotism questioned by people as close to me as my own mother who believes that Americans who speak out publicly against any particular war or the president during a "time of war" (unless it's Kosovo/Bosnia and the president is Clinton) are traitors; or who believe that supporting Social Security is tantamount to working for the KGB.

I was at a Fourth of July event a few years ago in Florida with my probably 3-year-old son. A woman handed him a small flag on a stick. I was grateful, and as I encouraged Ben to say "thank you," she got this hard look in her eyes and said somewhat stridently, "you make sure that doesn't touch the ground."

OMFG.

This is why I don't worship inanimate objects. Actually, I don't worship inanimate objects because I just don't worship anything. But this is why I don't advocate the worship of inanimate objects.

I think I've written about this before, about why I think the Ten Commandments contains the prohibition against the worship of idols. It's because people have a tendency to mistake the symbol for the reality. It starts innocently enough, having a physical object which one uses to focus one's concentration on what they believe to be a god or holy principle; but later the less sophisticated worshipper starts thinking the object is imbued with the power of the entity, and then the object is the entity. And then the fanatical worshipper starts punishing people who look at their object of worship in the wrong way because they've completely lost sight of the meaning behind the object.

We've got the same problem with our flag. When people say "our military fight and die for that flag" I think "then they're fighting and dying for the wrong thing. They really ought to be fighting and dying for our Constitution which is a document that actually has real, tangible meaning and applies to our everyday lives."

I don't mean to denigrate our flag; in fact, I endorse respect for it. If I were in a foreign country or in hostile territory and saw the flag flying or sewn on the sleeve of a soldier, you bet I would feel hope and strength and love. I feel completely the pride and unity the flag is supposed to represent. I think it's pretty stupid and counter-productive for a U.S. citizen to burn or deface the flag as protest.

But I do not worship it. I do not in any way think the flag is more important than the Constitution, the Bill of Rights or any of my fellow Americans.

And I bristle at Jay Marvin's attitude that the best way to "take back the flag" is for Lefties (who have an undeserved reputation for hating the flag) to wrap themselves in it just like the RWNJs and use it as a weapon against other Americans. This morning Jay endorsed his own idea by saying [paraphrasing] "If you love America you should fly the flag every day or put this sticker on your car." That's just more of the empty, stupid, symbolic bullshit that has turned what should be a rallying symbol of unity into a tool of division and anger.

Here's when I, a civilian, intend to fly the flag in the next year: May 19, Armed Forces Day; May 28, Memorial Day (observed); May 30, Memorial Day; June 14, Flag Day; July 4, Independence Day; September 3, Labor Day; September 11, Flag Day; October 24, United Nations Day; November 11, Veterans' Day; February 18, Presidents' Day; May 2, Holocaust Remembrance Day.
But flying the flag or not has absolutely nothing to do with anyone's love or respect for this country, its laws, its principles or for other Americans.

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