Friday, May 20, 2005

What are you trying to say?

The last couple of years have seen an amazing proliferation of American flags, yellow ribbons, and other shows of patriotism on people's homes, cars, and lapels. peace ribbon To me, in the context of the Iraq war, it stinks of jingoism, but it also bugs me in some other way that I couldn't quite put my finger on, until I read this post, which excerpts a reflection from Bill Moyers on the symbols, the everyday devotion of civic duty, and thence on what it means to be patriotic (privately or publicly).
Until now I haven’t thought it necessary to display a little metallic icon of patriotism for everyone to see. It was enough to vote, pay my taxes, perform my civic duties, speak my mind and do my best to raise our kids to be good Americans. Sometimes I would offer a small prayer of gratitude that I had been born in a country whose institutions sustain me, whose armed forces protected me and whose ideals inspired me. I offered my heart’s affection in return. It no more occurred to me to flaunt the flag on my chest than it did to pin my mother’s picture on my lapel to prove her son’s love.
The whole thing is only a couple extra paragraphs -- go read it.

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