Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy "Independence" Day!

When I was a kid and I saw the American flag, I have to be honest, I felt an immense amount of pride. I really truly believed in the ideals of the independent, democratic society that were painted in my history books. I knew the Star Spangled banner, I sang it at the kickoff of the soccer season for the soccer league when I was 10. AND it meant something to me. I felt American.

Even when I was in middle school and my older cousins used to tease me that I was the youngest socialist they had met (they were/are republicans) I still believed in the power of our system for change. I hated the disparities and at 12 I had already been exp[osed to so many of them. BUT, I believed. And really, inspiration when looking at a flag is a powerful thing. It is an iconography that can have massive impact. We on the west coast I think have detached from it but it is still true for many people in this country.

Then I transferred from Pomona schools to Walnut High School my freshman year and my perspective on the world I inhabited changed. All of a sudden I was getting an education and not struggling to listen to a teacher. I realized my grammar was shit and being the "good" kid no longer got me the great grades. I came to see that the world I inhabited didn't see me as American... no matter how I saw myself. I was one of few kids with a complicated last name in any of my classes. I remember the pause before trying to execute a butchering of this last name and being certain that the next sounds to exit a teachers mouth were about me. I remember the snickering when I tried to explain what my primary education had been like. And I remember the day that I went into try out as a graduation speaker with a fire and brim stone speech about giving back to the community since our high school community had given us so much. I can see in my brain the complete lack of understanding in the faces of the teachers I was presenting to. I can see there pity.

It was during this transition in my life that I really saw that the world was truly not equal for all. It was a bunch of people who wanted it to be equal, but had no frame of reference for what that looked like or what kind of understanding, empowerment, sacrifice and knowledge that took. Overall, I think a good chunk of our country would like to live in its ignorance. It's just easier that way. Sad to say but we really are a "Brave New World" up in the sheezy.

I write this because as of late, seeing the American flag causes an agitation for me. When I see it, I think hypocrisy. It doesn't inspire me anymore. As naive as this sounds, that saddens me. I'm such a passionate person, about the small and large things, and that passion used to extend to believing in our system. I don't know if there was one moment that took that from me or a collection of pieces. I was talking to someone recently about what Franco did to Spain. The absolute mind fuck that he played on the country. Marginalizing it's peices of non-homogenity so that they felt like they weren't Spanish. Spain's turmoil, 40 years after Franco, still exists in getting those people to believe they are a part of the whole. Then it dawned on me, that the United States is in much the same scenario. It's trickier though, there is not one moment or one isolated figure that did it. It's a collection of "I'm better then you" mo fo's that got us to this place.

Intrestingly enough, though I do not naively believe in its systems anymore, I strongly still believe in its people. I have watched individuals create extraordinary change. With an idea, not even an action but an idea, people will revolutionize the world around them. This continues to be a source of hope for me. At some point all of us were fed an ideal, however hollow, about what we are supposed to be, and from that we go and seek ways to effect the world with our gifts. I mean really selfishly, americanly, we go out and do what we want to do. And this is why we rock.

So it's the 4th of July, time for beer, fireworks and family (in whatever incarnation we choose). And I sit here early in the morning, having woken up with a genuine want to see our iconography line up with our people. I sit here pissed off at the many who took away from me the sense of pride I had when I looked at that flag. I wish you knew the world better, then you would see that I am as American of a dream as it gets. And there are tons of me everywhere, but you are too busy making money off of violating the planet and its people to pay attention. Cheers to the people who continue to bring me inspiration and create room in my heart to be a fighter for the things I believe in. Thank you ya'll cause I believe in you; in your many talents, dreams, wants, desires and wishes. Happy mother freakin fourth of July.

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