It is the same dynamic that also makes me want to keep a safe distance from jingoistic fellow-citizens. Flag-waving is not for me. People chanting "USA!USA!" in a frenzy makes me as uncomfortable as I would be if I were in the middle of a charismatic religious revival event. I imagine it would be the same case at a rave too, which the straitjacketed me has never been to.
After the second plane crashed into the tower that fateful September morning, I was so distraught over the event that I didn't leave home for two days and spent most of the time in front of the television screen trying to make sense of it all. It was ghastly. I was way too depressed. I went to a neighborhood gathering to share my grief and emotions. But, within a couple of minutes, I got freaked out by the jingoism. Why can't people love their country or politics without getting all jingoistic?
The Fourth of July has come and gone. People who know me know how much I love these United States. Sometimes, people in India even fault me for having abandoned India and a lot of things Indian, and for having made myself so much at home in the US. Yet, I don't wear the flag on my shirt sleeve, neither literally not metaphorically. It feels creepy. It is creepy to watch politicians with the US flag on their shirts and suits, as if anyone who does not is an inferior American and without any love for the country.
Why all this rant, you ask?
Because, I read the following poem (ht). And that too only a few minutes after breakfast and coffee!
Fourth of JulyIt is not that I am a cranky old man. I have always been this way. I was born this way--well, without the grey hair!
by Howard Nemerov
Because I am drunk, this Independence Night,
I watch the fireworks from far away,
from a high hill, across the moony green
Of lakes and other hills to the town harbor,
Where stately illuminations are flung aloft,
One light shattering in a hundred lights
Minute by minute. The reason I am crying,
Aside from only being country drunk,
That is, may be that I have just remembered
The sparklers, rockets, roman candles and
so on, we used to be allowed to buy
When I was a boy, and set off by ourselves
At some peril to life and property.
Our freedom to abuse our freedom thus
Has since, I understand, been remedied
By legislation. Now the authorities
Arrange a perfectly safe public display
To be watched at a distance; and now also
The contribution of all the taxpayers
Together makes a more spectacular
Result than any could achieve alone
(A few pale pinwheels, or a firecracker
Fused at the dog's tail). It is, indeed, splendid:
Showers of roses in the sky, fountains
Of emeralds, and those profusely scattered zircons
Falling and falling, flowering as they fall
And followed distantly by a noise of thunder.
My eyes are half-afloat in happy tears.
God bless our Nation on a night like this,
And bless the careful and secure officials
Who celebrate our independence now.